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Fairness versus equality in education

When creating appropriate, individualized curriculum, it is important to remember that "fair" and "equal" are not the same thing. In other words, if all children are given the same thing, it might be fair, but when children are given what they need, it is fair. For example, if a child is unable to sit at circle time, that child has the option to move outside the group and do something that will not disturb the group, or perhaps use a fidget toy during meeting time. In thinking about this, what does the idea of fair not being the same as equal mean in a classroom? Generate an example of a fairness issue and explain how you might resolve it.

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This is a question of semantics, or the nuances of words. Equal does not mean identical - it means equivalent. A pound of apples weigh equally as much as a pound of bananas, but they are not the same.

I ran into this issue when I held field trips in class. Inevitably, one child would not get, or would forget to obtain and bring, permission to attend and so had to be left behind - or would be absent, and have to make up for credit the activity we did while on the trip. This is where different, but of equal ...

Solution Summary

How are the concepts of fair and equal not identical in meaning in educational terms? What is fair and what is equal, if they are not the same thing? What is an example of the difference between them which presents the distinction in an easy-to-understand example?