For the second arc of the year, we chose Fairness as our theme. As we delved into the history of Salt, we discovered that the modes of trade were securely based in this elusive concept and we chose four main way points to guide us in this massive subject: games, trade, government, and social justice. We sought to explore the reasons why the instinct for fairness can be observed in many animal species, not just humans, and yet by itself this instinct does not seem to guarantee a just society. We asked, “If fairness is built into our genetic code, why is there any unfairness in society?” Throughout the arc, the Brightworks students delved into the meanings of fairness in themselves and as part of a school and wrestled with the complexities of creating justice in situations that cannot be made to be fair, decoded the difference between “fair” and “equal,” and tried to understand how sometimes, the best intentions can lead to the worst outcomes.
The Rubber Band journeyed into the world and took on unfairness in San Francisco by volunteering at organizations like the Food Bank and the Firefighters’ holiday Toy Drive, exploring moral dilemmas and civil disobedience in their video, art, research, and psychological projects.
The Sand Leopards examined environmental justice, the Civil Rights movement, and the founding of our nation with this lens in mind, coming to realize and represent the realities of fairness and justice through a stage play and a video on environmental issues and a study of the unfairness presented in natural resources meaning dominance of one people over another. The Phantoms dove into the study of fair play by establishing rules for board and dice games while discussing the intricacies of stereotyping and homelessness in San Francisco. Their projects ranged from a book of biographies of civil rights leaders to creating their own board games with complex rules to make play fair. The Coyotes looked at currency and fair trade in the food we eat, learned about the history of the Civil Rights Movement through stories about important figures like six-year-old Ruby Bridges, and discussed ways that kids can make a difference in the world. They were activists in full throttle, running book drives to educate people about literacy equality and electronic waste drives to bring awareness to coltan mining in Africa, and educating their peers about waste management and recycling.
Read more about the kids’ experiences of Fairness on the blog.