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Written by Avery

Overview Edit

For my final assignment, I interviewed three people unassociated with the Social Justice Pathway using a questionnaire based on the essential questions our class examined this semester.  My subjects were an 8-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a 15-year-old.  I thought it would be interesting to get a variety of perspectives. Young kids especially have a different way of looking at the world.

Interview Questions Edit

1.  What is real? How do you know? Edit

Georgina (8): I know something is real because my hand doesn’t go right through it. If you can touch it, the thing is real.

Max (12):  Something is real if I can see it or if I can touch it.  If I have a reliable source, like a teacher, a newspaper, or sometimes a parent I know it’s real. I am real.

Anna (15):  I consider what is real as what I can physically see. As far as hearing things from people and knowing whether that is real or not, I think that things that seem reasonable or I have witnessed previously are real and if it can be proven.

2.  Have you ever witnessed an injustice? Edit

Georgina (8):  One day in class, everyone started talking about gay people because it just came up. Everyone was saying that if you were gay you were weird and different.  Our librarian is gay, and everyone was being mean so I said that it was their business who they loved and it’s okay to be gay.

Max (12): Sometimes in football the ref makes a lot of bad calls against one team, but not the other and it isn’t fair.  

Anna (15): Yes, I know that I have witnessed an injustice before but I can't think of a specific example right now.

3.  How does your behavior change depending on the environment (work, school, home, etc.)? Edit

Georgina (8): It depends.  If I’m with people I don’t know I’m kind of shy.  If I’m with people I know I’m myself, I always laugh with them.

Max (12):  I’m happier when I’m at home, and I’m more relaxed.  I’m less happy at school because I don’t like school and I’m more happy when I’m at home.  I’m less uptight when I know people, like my friends.  Even if I just know someone who’s not my friend, I’ll still be less uptight.  In new situations, I’m quieter at first until I feel more comfortable.

Anna (15): My behavior changes a lot based off of what environment I am in. For example, when I am out in public, I am a lot more put together and aware of how I am acting but when I am just with my friends or at home I'm a lot more relaxed and weirder than I would be at school.

4.  What is your role in your community? Why is it important? Edit

Georgina (8):  I think one of the ways I help everyone is that I can solve situations.  Like if my friends are fighting, I can usually help them talk it out.

Max (12): As a kid I balance out the old people. We keep things less serious.

Anna (15): I am not entirely sure what my exact role in the community is but I think everyone plays a part. I am part of the younger generation that is being educated in order to make sure that when my generation is in charge we can function properly. It is important that everyone contributes to society because a community can only be well rounded and balanced when everyone is involved.

Inferences from Interviews Edit

The responses to the first question showed that kids rely on their senses in order to determine what is real. They also depend on what trusted figures tell them.  As they get older this response may change due to a deeper understanding of the question and the ability to form opinions based on experience and intuition.

In general, the young children I talked to were able to recognize injustice in their lives even though they had had limited experience with it.  Their definition of injustice focused more on equality than equity.  I was particularly impressed by the complex response of Georgina, my 8-year-old subject.  I’d expected to hear about a playground quarrel, not a concrete example of discrimination at her school.  In history class, we read a New York Times article about an African American mother trying to shield her child from the details of the Ferguson case.  Eventually she had to talk to him about the shooting and the events that followed because he was hearing about them from other sources. I felt the story was relevant to my results because both bring up the idea that kids are often more perceptive of what is happening in the world around them than society expects.

My subjects’ answers to the third question were in line with what I expected.  Almost everyone is more comfortable at home and more introverted in public.  Even though my subjects don’t seem to be overly aware of their behavior in the moment, they realize that the environment and the people that they’re with impacts it.  Something that I noticed was that the older the person, the more they valued refined behavior in public, which makes sense.  As early as high school, people focus on their actions and people’s perceptions of them, a trend which seems to continue into adulthood.

The most surprising responses of all were to the question about community.  I doubted that my younger subjects would fully understand the meaning of the concept, but they surprised me.  Even though it was obvious that they hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about their role in their communities, all my subjects had a clear idea of how they fit in.  It was refreshing to hear them realize to some degree their own importance and significance to the people around them.

My classmate Jordan was also interested in getting a fresh perspective on our essential questions so she decided to interview three older people.  We decided to collaborate and compare our results, and came to the conclusion that age has a significant impact on how people think about reality, injustice, personality and community.    

Like the kids, the adults responded to the reality question in a very literal way.  Since the adults had lived for longer and therefore experienced more, in general, they had witnessed more injustices than the children.  The adults Jordan interviewed have all held jobs, so they cited the work, not school, as the place they felt they had to behave in a subdued manner.  As for their role in the community, the adults tended to define themselves by their occupations.  By contrast, the children thought more deeply about the way they actually interacted with their communities.   

From this project I learned that even at very young ages, people are able to grapple with abstract ideas about who they are and how they fit into their communities.  It reinforced my opinion that awareness of the world is an important stepping stone to being active in making the world the way we want it to be.  Even though I’ve spent the last several weeks contemplating the issues of reality, injustice, personality, and community, I felt empowered that kids as young as 8 and 12 had something to teach me on the topics.