Empowering Children Parenting Politics Teaching Tuesday

Politics for Kids: How those in power can divide us.

I thought I’d share a little lesson I first gave to my U.S. Foreign Policy students way back when George W. Bush was president: How those in power can divide us by giving us just a little taste of what we want and distributing it unevenly.

I gave this lesson to my kids when they were 7. I didn’t even have to make the lesson any different for my kids to understand because it’s so simple. (I did, however, use candy for my college students and money for my kids.)

Here it is:

  1. Sit down in front of your students/children with an overabundance of money (a handful of change works well for little ones) or candy (if that’s your thing).
  2. Ask your students/children if they would like you to share. (Of course they do.)
  3. Share. But share unequally. I gave one of my children 2 quarters and the other 1 penny. Make sure you keep most of it for yourself.
  4. The first reaction will be, “Hey, why did he/she/they get more than I did?”
  5. While they fight over who got more, you walk away with your stash.

Of course, the lesson doesn’t end there. You then explain what you just did.

Then, and this is the best part, ask the question, “What could you have done differently?” When doing this with my kids, I expected them to say something like they could have shared, or asked me to give them equal shares.

The responses I got were surprising and warmed my heart so much. First, my son said that he could have just given all of his money to his sister. Then my daughter suggested that they could both give their money away to someone else. Finally, they agreed that they could just give the money back to me and go on with their lives.

Have you tried something like this with your children or students? Comment below and tell me what happened.

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and Medium.com. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

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