A very wise philosopher known as John Rawls touched on the subject of fairness and equal opportunity. In his mind, freedom and equality require fairness. In order to achieve fairness, everyone must have the same opportunity and availability to be successful in society. Rawls says that our opportunities in life are strongly influenced by the position into which we are born through no choice of our own. For example, the economic, political, and social structures we are born into in our society.
Thinking about Rawls and his ideas have led me to examine our class. I am not quite sure if writing about the dynamic of this class on the blog is the best idea, but this topic is one that I have seen to be a little controversial throughout the semester. As every student in this class knows, or should know, the class is set up in, in a sense, under the model of a video game. Each student must do certain things to be eligible to continue participating and reaching the next level of the class. Not everything is required, and we can decide which part of the class we would like to be a part of our final grade. We can also determine how much of our grade we would like to portion all of the activities. In the bigger picture, this class is purely self-determined and every student has the ability to achieve the best grade possible. Because of the different options, we can decide which activities we might be able to succeed the most in. For example, if students don’t enjoy writing papers or don’t think that they are very good at them, they can choose to participate in the blogging portion of the class and also do a group project for their grade and Vice Versa. I think that John Rawls would say the dynamic of this class allows for fairness and equal opportunity for every student to be successful.
However, I think that there is another aspect of the class that Rawls would not agree is allowing every student equal opportunity. Along with the ability to determine our grading, we also have the opportunity to receive “power-ups” throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, we can decide how to use these power ups. The more you have, the more of a benefit they will have on your grade. They can be used to raise a paper, blogging, group project, quiz grade, or just the over all grade in the class. Every student starts with 3 power ups, and there is no guarantee that we will be given anymore. We are not told how to get these, but more awarded with them. Throughout the semester, many students have been given power ups for presenting during lecture. The majority of the discussion sections were given the opportunity to present, and if they chose to do so, they were rewarded with power ups. I would say that this is a fair way to give power ups. However, not every section was given the opportunity to do this. Personally, my section was never given the opportunity to present in front of lecture. Sure presenting in front of a giant lecture hall can be nerve racking, but I would have jumped at the opportunity to gain another power up.
Do you think it is fair that only certain sections were offered this option? Would John Rawls say this was unfair, depriving each student from the equal opportunity to present in lecture and gain power ups? I understand that these power ups are extra credit and we do not all get them, but was it fair to offer this opportunity to some sections and not others?