I stumbled on an interesting resource about social class today. It was a list of various advantages a person might have had while growing up (such as Father attended college, Went to summer camp, Had a private tutor before age 18, Went on a cruise with family, etc.). The person who  posted the list was expected to bold those that applied to him or her in order to reveal the privileges he or she had inherited. This struck me as something that would make an interesting classroom exercise, and lo and behold, after a little Google searching, I learned that that was how it started in the first place.

The original classroom exercise was titled “Take a Step Forward,” and was developed byWill Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, & Stacy Ploskonka at Indiana State University. It involves students starting out in a line and then each person taking a step forward for each item that applied to them. The site includes instructions to help make the exercise a learning experience.

The full list of privileges for which you would take a step includes:

If your father went to college before you started

If your father finished college before you started

If your mother went to college before you started

If your mother finished college before you started

If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.

If your family was the same or higher class than your high school teachers

If you had a computer at home when you were growing up

If you had your own computer at home when you were growing up

If you had more than 50 books at home when you were growing up

If you had more than 500 books at home when you were growing up

If were read children’s books by a parent when you were growing up

If you ever had lessons of any kind as a child or a teen

If you had more than two kinds of lessons as a child or a teen

If the people in the media who dress and talk like you were portrayed positively

If you had a credit card with your name on it before college

If you had or will have less than $5000 in student loans when you graduate

If you had or will have no student loans when you graduate

If you went to a private high school

If you went to summer camp

If you had a private tutor

(US students only) If you have been to Europe more than once as a child or teen

(International question) If you have been to the US more than once as a child or teen

If your family vacations involved staying at hotels rather than KOA or at relatives homes

If all of your clothing has been new

If your parents gave you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

If there was original art in your house as a child or teen

If you had a phone in your room

If your parent owned their own house or apartment when you were a child or teen

If you had your own room as a child or teen

If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course

If you had your own cell phone in High School

If you had your own TV as a child or teen

If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College

If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline

If you ever went on a cruise with your family

If your parents took you to museums and art galleries as a child or teen

If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

I confess to having some reservations about doing this in the public way described for fear that it would make some students (especially at either extreme) unduly uncomfortable, but I do think there would be ways to modify it if that is a concern. For example, it would be possible to have students fill out the sheet and then turn in their score and then report the scores to the class as a whole and discuss them. Students could still self-report in discussion that way if they so chose.

The site also includes additional resources designed to encourage a deeper understanding of social class including the Social Class Knowledge Quiz and Campus Connection (a simulation about social capital).

They have also created a blog called Social Class on Campus.

P.S. I’m surprised I’ve not seen this one on Facebook yet. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

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