OAKLAND, Calif. — I suppose this could apply to any political movement. However, considering that the raids on Occupy Wall Street are happening in this very city where my children’s school is located, a lot of kids here are talking about it with each other and at home with their parents.
The other day, my kids and I spotted a couple helicopters. “I hope everything is okay,” I said out loud. “I bet they are there because of the protests.”
That’s when Ari replied (paraphrased), “Yeah, there are people protesting because one percent of the population was very greedy and did a bad thing in not sharing.”
I was surprised and also proud of my son, who at 8 years old was able to grasp the basic concept behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. But I can understand how all this shouting back and forth between the “1%” and “99%” could be confusing for small children.
Most recently, some of the parents at our school were discussing the matter online. One parent was concerned that the children were lumping people into groups of good and bad, which in many ways runs counter to our curriculum’s global philosophy.
Some of the kids don’t know what group they’re in. My own child asked me: “I don’t get it, Mama. Are we the 99% or the 1%?” Play the standard answer through the child’s mind: “You’re the 99%.” Translation: “I’m not bad. My parents aren’t bad. I’m on the right side. It’s somebody else who’s wrong.”
What are the consequences of lumping people into groups in a child’s mind?
I understand the 1%, and I can hold that information and respond to it without feeling my world divided. Can a child do that?
Another parent wrote a story to explain the “99% movement” to his first grader:
The Friends and the Cake (a story about the 99%)
Once upon a time there were 100 friends who had a yummy cake to share. (Graphic of friends and cake here.)
1 of the friends cut a great big slice of the cake all for herself, (again, graphic of a quarter of the cake sliced off)
and told the other 99 friends to share what was left.
When they split the rest of the cake between them, the 99 friends each got a teeny tiny piece. They didn’t think this was very fair. (Graphic of one of the 99 percenters yelling, “No fair!”)
What do you think would be fair?
What do you think the 99 friends should do now?
You can write or draw your ideas on the next page.
I liked the exercise at the end of his story because it allowed his daughter to explore and make up her own mind rather than have her dad do it for her. What do you think? What have you told your children about Occupy Wall Street?