Sunday, April 13, 2008

Are YOU Privileged?

A few weeks ago as I was visiting many of the teacher blogs I have on one of my blogrolls at History Is Elementary I saw The Privilege Meme over at Confessions From the Couch. I thought it was interesting.

Miss A explains this meme is to help examine privileges/social class. The meme comes 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 participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright. To participate, copy and paste…then unbold my responses to make your own.

Bold the items that 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 bolded 22 out of 34. I guess that would make me priviledged, 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 would leave many items unbolded yet his family during their heyday were very priviledged 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 situtuations most of the time it is helpful to have a giggle.


Dan Edwards said...

Geeze.....I only count 9 of those for my childhood. However, I have always said that I wanted to do better by my children than my parents were able to do for me, and in a quick count, my son's rate in at about 22 of those (and some don't count since the oldest is only 13). Wish I felt "priviledged". But we's doing better than many folks out there. And I think that counts for something.

EHT said...

Hi Polski. I believe that's everyone's goal is to provide more opportunities for their children. Wow, your sons already have 22 of these...

I just think some of these things are so "does it really matter". Does it really mean I'm "special" if I have a tv in my room? or my car is a hand-me-down or bought new.

I mean I had 22 of these things, but in certain locations you could actually see the ground through the pine floorboards of my house....

In the 30s my Dad's family was cash poor, but self-sufficient therefore they made it through the Depression far better than town folk.

You can have students in your classroom who could bold all of theses things on the list yet has had no love or raising at home. You can have students with none of these things yet they are polite, motivated, respectful, etc.

Mr. W said...

I am also a 22 out of 34...a few different ones, but similar.

Anonymous said...

I scored 5. And I thought I was pretty generous with some of them. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I have 14 but i enjoyed my life and am only in college so things could still change.

Anonymous said...

Context is everything, isn't it? You can check off the boxes, but you have to know the full story to truly understand (thinking about your post on testing now.)

I just ordered 'Crossing the tracks for love' from our local library. It's tiny and that's the only Ruby Payne book they carried. We'll have to get it online. Thanks for the tip.

EHT said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Byrningbunny, context is everything. That full story really helps in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Is there an answer key (ie 22+ is privileged)?

EHT said...

No, there is no answer key....and they whole thing is very subjective when you look at it because we have children from very affluent backgrounds who are a mess just as we have kids from poor backgrounds that are mess as well. Having advantages are a matter of context as I stated in the post and in my later comments.

Regarding #22....original art is and can be very expensive so I believe that's why it is included in the survey. If you are able to purchase a Matisse, etc. I would venture some would argue you are privileged.

Anonymous said...

I only ended up with a score of 5, but I would consider myself to have been "privileged". My parents did not attend college, in fact my father dropped out of High School to work, although he later got his GED. My parents were lower-middle class, blue collar types, but they always wanted more for my brother and me. They may not have been able to provide many of the material items on the list, but there was encouragement, support, nurturing and love in abundance. It is a direct result of their vision for a better life for their children that saw my brother graduate with an engineering degree and me with my MBA. I think that your priviledged list may emphasize "quantity" of advantages rather than "quality". Just my two cents worth.