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Are You Privileged?

Are You Privileged?

A few weeks ago as I was visiting many of the teacher blogs when I found a post I thought it was interesting.

The inspiration of the post came from “What Privileges Do You Have?,” based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University.

If you use this game elsewhere, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

See how many of the items below apply to you:

1. Father went to college

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. (same)

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (art, piano)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (had one with Dad’s name)

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (before I got married)

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp (flag corp)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course (I don’t think they existed in the olden days)

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

31. Went on a cruise with your family

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

I found 22 out of 34 to be true for me. I guess that would make me privileged, however, I didn’t always feel that way as I went through school. I didn’t live in a subdivision like all of my friends. We didn’t drive the newest cars, and we ate fairly simply. The home I lived in sat in the middle of lumberyard where my father worked as the manager, and I had a railroad track running 500 feet in front of my house-a craftsman style bungalow built around 1929.

There were no hallways in my home that sat up on stacked bricks, and the heat came from a gas furnace with only one grate. Most cold mornings would find me huddled with my sister over the furnace as the hot air would blow up our flannel nightgowns. It was so warm, and we’d stand there giggling telling each other we were pregnant with our nightgowns all blowed out.

Privileged? I guess….according to the list and when placed side by side with others I guess I was, HOWEVER, doesn’t it really depend on your generation?

If my father played this little game he wouldn’t have selected as many items to be true yet his family during their heyday were very privileged and had many things others didn’t. They had land holdings, they owned their home, they ate off their own land, and today he can do anything he wants. He made an extremely good living without a college education.

Looking at this from his generation’s point of view I guess the definition of privilege changes every so often as our society changes. I do this this sort of exercise is helpful to get an idea where people you deal with everyday might be coming from. These types of things can be a help when trying to deal with children from poverty backgrounds…..backgrounds that are very foreign to me.

One of the best resources (books and tapes) that I have ever used to help me get my head around the implications of poverty and its effects on education is Dr. Ruby K. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Not only is she a very entertaining speaker the exercises in her book and workbook gave me a totally different mindset regarding some of my students.

If you’ve never experienced Ruby Payne I highly suggest you get your hands on some of her videos……The experiences she relates are simply a scream at times. Since most of us find ourselves in difficult situations most of the time it is helpful to have a giggle.

Discuss now and let us know what you think about privilege.


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