Resilience is key for underprivileged kids
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