Re­silience is key for un­der­priv­i­leged kids

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Child wel­fare and de­vel­op­ment

In child health and ed­u­ca­tion we of­ten use the con­cept of a ‘level play­ing field’ to de­scribe the idea of equal­ity (all play­ers play by the same rules). We also of­ten talk of eq­uity (giv­ing all play­ers what they need to have an equal chance to suc­ceed). How­ever, the dif­fer­ence be­tween eq­uity and equal­ity, usu­ally dis­cussed at a the­o­ret­i­cal level, can only truly be un­der­stood — through the lived ex­pe­ri­ence — by un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren them­selves.

For sci­en­tists, the con­cept of a ‘level play­ing field’ is a pop­u­lar one. We use it in our ap­pli­ca­tions to gov­ern­ment and fund­ing agen­cies and on our aca­demic web­sites. It is a con­cept that sounds good and makes us feel good.

Like many oth­ers, I con­sider my­self to be some­one who strives to ‘make things bet­ter’ for un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren.

How­ever, I must reg­u­larly re­mind my­self that a ‘level play­ing field’ is not an ‘eq­ui­table play­ing field.’ Even if we as a so­ci­ety can one day achieve equal­ity for all chil­dren … that will not en­sure eq­uity. I there­fore pro­pose we ac­knowl­edge, up front, the lim­i­ta­tions in our abil­ity, and es­pe­cially au­thor­ity to achieve eq­uity and (re) fo­cus our at­ten­tion on pre­par­ing and equip­ping chil­dren with the knowl­edge, skill set and tools needed to suc­ceed in a ‘level but in­equitable play­ing field.’ The key here is re­silience, loosely de­fined as do­ing bet­ter than ex­pected; or in the lan­guage of health econ­o­mists ‘do­ing more with less,’ which is what un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren ac­tu­ally have (even in the best case sce­nario of a level play­ing field). Ste­lios Ge­or­giades, PhD, Hamil­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.