Take a Step Forward

I ran across an interesting meme today. I was even more intrigued because, unlike most memes, the original authors -- Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University -- asked that any participants give them proper credit. A few minutes of internet surfing took me to their website and the text of the actual exercise.

(text below copied from Step into Social Class 2.0: A Social Class Awareness Experience.
Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka
Indiana State University, © 2008)

Introduction: An activity designed to help the participants gain awareness of the vast range of social class that exists within themselves and others. This has been updated based on the wide range of feedback we received as this was becoming a popular experience.

A big room with space to move for all participants
Chairs to sit for discussion

Pay attention to how you feel. Angry, sad, happy, winner, loser . . .
No talking – we will talk about this a lot when it is over
Line up here and take a step forward of about 1 (one) foot or one foot length

Take a step....

[note by bonggamom: on the internet meme, instead of taking a step, you are instructed to type in boldface the statements that are true for you. The text in italics is mine):

1) If your father went to college before you started

2) If your father finished college before you started

3) If your mother went to college before you started

4) If your mother finished college before you started

5) If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
(My dad is a medical doctor and used to be dean of a medical college in the Philippines, my mom has a business degree, and lawyers abound on my dad's side of the family)

6) If your family was the same or higher class than your high school teachers (I never really thought about it, I guess I assumed we were the same class because I had schoolmates whose mothers were teachers at the school)

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

8) If you had your own computer at home when you were growing up
(my parents bought a family computer around the time we were in highschool or college)

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

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

11) If were read children's books by a parent when you were growing up
(I never counted but it certainly seemed like we had hundreds of books. Even when I was reading by myself, I loved having my mother read us stories at bedtime)

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

13) If you had more than two kinds of lessons as a child or a teen
(Piano and ballet as well as art, swimming, etc.. during the summer)

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

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

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

17) If you had or will have no student loans when you graduate
(My parents would never have been able to afford to send me to college in the US. Tuition at the University of the Philippines, a public university, was only P6000 per semester, or around $300 in the 1990's, or $150 in today's dollars. Still, the majority of my classmates had some type of scholarship or subsidy)

18) If you went to a private high school

19) If you went to summer camp (just once, to a summer camp abroad, one of the best experiences of my childhood years)

20) If you had a private tutor

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

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

23) If your family vacations involved staying at hotels rather than KOA or at relatives homes
(We always stayed with relatives, except once on a trip to Europe where we stayed at hostels)

24) If all of your clothing has been new (Quite a few of my clothes were handsewn rather than bought, and I was always happy to get hand-me-downs from my aunt)

25) If your parents gave you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (I bought my first car in my early twenties but my parents lent me money for the down payment)

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

26) If you had a phone in your room

27) If your parent owned their own house or apartment when you were a child or teen ( I remember being shocked when I learned while in college that my parents had finally finished paying off the mortgage on our home. I had never really thought of mortgages or house prices before and just assumed that we fully owned our home)

28) If you had your own room as a child or teen (I shared a room with my sisters until I left home)

29) If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (I never took SAT or ACT)

30) If you had your own cell phone in High School (cellphones didn't exist back then!)

31) If you had your own TV as a child or teen (My parents weren't really into TV. We never had multiple TV's in the house, here were periods of time during my childhood when we didn't have any TV's in the house at all)

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

33) If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline

34) If you ever went on a cruise with your family

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

36) If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (heating bills in Manila? In any case, I had no idea how much electrical bills or cooling bills were)

Now everyone recognize that you are at the same place academically.
Everyone turn around.
Everyone has permission to talk.
No one has permission to accuse any one or any group of anything.
Everyone must use “I” statements.
Note that the people on one end of the room had to work harder to be here today than the people at the other end of the room. Some of you had lives of more privilege than others. There is no one to blame, it is just the way it is. Some have privilege and some don’t.

(If I were in that classroom, I'd be more than halfway across the room. And I realize now that my parents could afford to buy a lot of those other things -- phones, tv's, original art, new clothes, cruises-- but they chose not to.

As a child, everyone I knew had the same lifestyle, so I didn't feel privileged. In fact, as an adolescent I would probably have complained that I was underprivileged because my parents never spoiled us with material things . Once I entered college and met a multitude of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, I became acutely aware that I do come from a privileged background.

I am forever grateful to my parents for investing in my future, for spending their money wisely on books and lessons instead of presents and hotels and tv's. And I love them for teaching me to be aware of this privilege and grateful for it, but not to rely on it. )

Note: Original source: The list is based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. The exercise developers ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.If you want to participate, please do the same.


deedee said...

Awesome. I am so glad that you took the time to look up more information on this meme. It would be fun to do in a classroom.

tintin said...

This is extremely interesting. It's amazing how different my parents' circumstances are between me the eldest, and my little brother. I wasn't that privileged but my little brother definitely is.

Anonymous said...

Daddy told me he offered for you and Tin to go to Mt. Holyoke for college but you both said no and chose UP...Is he telling me stories again??