Theme of the Month
This month we will focus on the powerful word, “fairness.” Fairness is a tough concept for many children to understand. Research continually reveals that children believe that “fair” is interchangeable with “equal” or “the same.” If it’s fair, doesn’t it mean that everyone gets the same amount? That everything is divided equally? Of course, while this is the case some of the time, it is not always the case. As adults, we know that fairness is reached when each person gets what is needed, deserved, earned and appropriate.
For example, picture the family that sits down to dinner. If fairness meant “the same” then everyone should be given the same amount of food regardless of need, hunger or size. Most would agree, that wouldn’t be fair at all! Fairness is not always interchangeable with “the same.” “Fairness is a form of cooperation,” researchers posit, “as it enables individuals with conflicting interests to find mutually satisfactory solutions” (Engelmann & Tomasello, 2019). Studies show that a sense of fairness can emerge in children as young as 3 years old– especially as it applies to activities where everyone needs to collaborate. The root of fairness is respect and justice.
Of course, the sense of fairness changes over time. Young children might recognize that keeping all of a prized possession to oneself might not be fair, but that doesn’t mean they will share that prized possession! For example, when preschoolers were given stickers to either keep or share with others in the research room, study findings show that they tend to keep most or all the stickers for themselves. By the time children are 7 to 8 years old, they are much more likely to share the stickers equally. This age-group is aware of the local norms related to sharing and they follow those norms (Time Magazine, 2016).
It is worth stating that fairness takes some sacrifice. If fairness is treating others according to what is deserved, needed or appropriate, then a child might wind up with less than someone else if s/he is truly being fair. Fairness is an ideal that supports empathy and resource-sharing and downplays greed and selfishness. We will be stressing these ideals this month.
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Here’s to your success!
—Your Motivated and Dedicated Instructors