Was That Fair?

6, 7, 8
Keywords & Concepts: 

Several questions spark conversation and critical thinking about the meaning of fairness. Learners work together to create a definition of fairness.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • discuss and come to consensus on a definition for fairness.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Give the following scenario: Olivia told the school counselor she wants to take shop class to learn to build things with wood and tools. The counselor smiled and said, "You don't want to take that class; you'll be the only girl in the class. Let's get you into an art class." 

    Discuss the scenario: Why do you think the counselor discouraged Olivia from taking the class? Can you think of a time when rules were fair but the practice wasn't fair? (Example: In 1870, the 15th Amendment granted men of color the right to vote, but many were still kept from voting.)

  2. Read the following questions about fairness. After each question, the learners give a thumbs-up if they answer "yes," a thumbs-down if they answer "no," and a palm flat for "I don't know." After each question, discuss why they answered that way and what variations of these situations may be unfair or fair.

    1. Is it fair to give one student a B and another student an A?
    2. Is it fair to ask one member of a family to do a chore and not another member of the family?
    3. Is it fair to let boys and not girls play basketball on a team?
    4. Is it fair to hire a man for a job that a woman also applied for?
    5. Is it fair to tell a black man he must give up his seat for a white woman on a crowded bus?
    6. Is it fair to tell a bus passenger to give up his seat for a person with a cane?
    7. Is it fair for a teacher to ignore a tardy when someone is late for class?
    8. Is it fair for an employer to pay a woman more than a man for the same job?
    9. Is it fair to force someone to work for no pay if they don't get caught?
    10. Is it possible for unequal treatment to be fair?
    11. Is it possible for equal treatment to be unfair?
  3. Display the definitions of fairness from the handout below. Have the learners write down what they think fairness is. Discuss and come to a consensus definition of fairness. Save the definition for the next lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give examples of needs not met by the government, business, or family sectors.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.