An unfair game is not funny

OverviewThe purpose of the activity is to develop an understanding of injustice and to show how it can be cruel, especially when the injustice is in the form of discrimination based on identity and personal characteristics.
Learning objectives• Understand how injustice affects the person, the community, and the environment • Encourage fair behaviours that contribute to equity, equality and well-being for the community and the environment
Skills developed• Recognize the Importance of Fairness and Integrity • Encourage an environment free of discrimination or dishonesty • Take the necessary steps so that the process of decision-making is fair
MethodThe exercise is structured around a simple game idea, where ‘contestants’ use dice that they roll, and according to the result, take as many steps forward until they reach a finish line located 20 meters ahead (a shorter distance can be also used when indoors). The facilitator prepares sets of normal dice and dice which have the numbers 4, 5, and 6 covered/deleted and a set of . Before the game, the facilitator divides the children in different groups. Each group involves children according to criteria such as different birthday month, or color of hair, height, or even gender. It is advised to make more groups, in order to apply ‘different’ discrimination’ and ‘unfair’ criteria. This is to be done ‘on paper’ and not disclosed to the children. Each group receives a different kind of die. For example: girls will get normal die and boys will get distorted (covered) die, or those born in odd (normal die) and even months (distorted die) and so on. The children don’t know about this categorization and are prompted to just play the game with the kind of die they have been given. To have the children play the game, the facilitator should be consistent, telling them to play along in order to have a very interesting discussion when the game ends.
MaterialsFor the activity you need to prepare a set of dice according to the number of groups to be involved in the game. • 1 normal die that has numbers from 1 to 6 • 1 normal die with covered/deleted numbers: 4, 5 and 6 • Prepare at least 10 questions related to a theme recently dealt in the curriculum related to the environment (natural sciences, recycling...etc) • Paper with questions and number of questions.
Contestants start throwing the dice in turn from left to right and make so many steps as the dice indicate. Statistically, the children with the normal die (having available the numbers 4, 5, and 6) will reach the finish line first, while the others will lag behind. When all groups finish the game, the facilitator makes two groups with the ‘winners’ on one side, and the ‘losers’ on the other. The concept of fairness should not be discussed at the beginning of the game, no matter how much the children disagree with the whole setting. The concept should be explored at the end of the game, when all children reach the finish line.
When the game is over, the discussion of the whole experience should start:
-         Ask the children if they enjoyed the game. Get as many answers as possible regarding the  children’s opinion about who won the game and why this happened this way. The children will most probably raise the issue of the normal and distorted dice as handed over to them.
-         They might ask why or on what basis some of them did receive normal or distorted die. Ask the children at this point how they felt being advantaged or disadvantaged, as well as if they thought of helping others in some way during the game. Ask them if they felt like wanting to resign from the game or openly state their disapproval or openly resist to the idea of the game as it went on.
-         Explain the problems of an unfair game, looking into the aspects of legal and illegal actions. For example, you can use the distorted die as an allegory to show that the covered numbers could represent less opportunities for some people, or limited/unequal access to resources in order for one person to succeed. At a similar level, you can highlight the responsibility of people in a society to protest against ‘distorted dice’ or work towards ensuring that everyone gets normal ‘dice’.
-         After listening carefully to all their comments, tell them that the children who received normal and distorted dice have been chosen on the basis of aspects of their identity and characteristics, such as their birthday month, height, hair colour, etc., according to the criteria you used to discriminate.
-         Lastly, prompt the children to come up with prospective definitions of fairness and unfairness and ask them to think about real-life examples which are similar to the game they played.
-         Draw conclusions by emphasizing that, at society level, many ‘games’ might seem fair to a person or social group, but unfair to another person or social group at the same time.
TipsAdditional materialsHow to apply online?What to do at home?
You can select the questions of the game according to the interests of the group or for the improvement of knowledge and information (for example, a topic from the curriculum) and even tell the children that this is a “mock” exam, so they get more involved and understand the implications better. You can adapt the questions to your age group.
This activity is recommended to be implemented outdoors, if possible, but it can also be implemented indoors, using an A4 paper indicating the numbers of the questions.
How to apply it online:
This activity cannot be implemented online due to the dice trick.
What to do at home?
For students aged 8-9 or older, you can ask children to do some homework. Show them the image below and tell them to think about it. Ask them to come back the following day with the differences they think there are between Equity and Equality and start a discussion: Which of the 2 is more fair? Why?.
AuthorM. Begoña Arenas (ITC) adapted from material “AN UNFAIR GAME IS NOT A GAME” from the AVAL project.


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