Teaching Equality

Thumbnail for version as of 23:00, 15 February 2009
Wikimedia Commons, Coyau, 15 February 2009

Equality as a concept appears simple, but teaching it in the classroom may be as challenging. One may begin by asking the students to make a list of inequalities they perceive at home, school or in the society. These inequalities based on sex, income, caste etc can then be discussed one by one with sensitivity and care.

Complete equality is a myth, like complete freedom. A state may grant it to all its citizens by a rule of law but the society or economy may become the stumbling blocks. Political, social and economic equality are all interdependent. To achieve one without the other is very difficult.

The story of George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a classic fictional story to let the students understand how difficult it may become to establish Equality. In the story the animals of a farm revolt against its owner and establish their own rule. Their primary aim is to practise equality in the farm. They write the slogan, ‘All are Equal’, at every nook and corner of the farm. They are very happy. However their happiness turns is short-lived as the theory of equality is not being practised in the farm. Even the slogan is changed. It becomes “All are equal but some are more equal than others”. I had given one copy of Animal Farm to each student for their extended study.

The students can then be given the case studies of two states, one a communist and the other a democracy, to evaluate the status of equality in each. USSR is a classic case for communism.
It was a state whose entire edifice was based on equality and it crumbled. The examples of democracies can be many but it is advisable to avoid one’s own country. It is always good to begin with the study of a different country. The insights acquired can help understand one’s own country better.

Equality and Freedom are like two estranged sisters. A parent like Democracy finds it difficult to maintain a balance between the two. Very often one grows at the cost of another.

©arun jee, 6.11.20

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