In this challenge, students explore the equitable allocation of household or classroom jobs. Read to the class a story where one individual is required to assume unfair share of the workload. The story of Cinderella will serve this purpose, but the picture book, Piggybook by Anthony Browne, is especially effective. In this story, when the mother, who is responsible for all household chores, temporarily leaves the home, the other family members realize how unfair they have been. With the whole class, discuss the unfairness of the situation and brainstorm a list of jobs done at home or in the classroom. Using stick drawings, record them on a wall chart. Alternatively, the class could undertake a search for, or take pictures of, people doing various types of tasks at home or in our classroom. Create a chart listing the jobs and all the people who could potentially do each job (e.g., mother, father, sister, classmates, custodian, secretary, principal). Review the list of jobs and indicate which person from those identified is the most likely to do the job. Ask students what factors they considered in deciding who could do each task. To support this discussion, provide them with obviously unsuitable suggestions such as:
- What is wrong with one person doing everything?
- What might be wrong with deciding that the youngest person in the family should fix the car?
- What would be wrong with asking the smallest person in the class to carry heavy books?
From this discussion, develop criteria for assigning suitability for these types of jobs (e.g., tasks are fair and require similar amounts of effort, the person must be able to do the job or can easily learn to do it, the tasks can be done safely or without feeling afraid). As a class, use stick drawings to create a list of all the jobs in and around the classroom. Invite students to identify and draw pictures of three or four classroom tasks that they are able to do and that it would be safe for them to do. From this selection, invite students to decide on a new job they could undertake at school that would be fair for them to take on. You may wish to adapt and use the strategies and chart, Committing to Action (Support Material), to structure and assess this activity. A week or so after assuming their new task, ask students to report on their experiences. Issue notes of appreciation for their efforts.
Adapted from Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (eds), Contributing to Family and Community (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002), pp. 41-51.