Before each Meeting for Worship, I like to teach a lesson that directly relates to a Quaker testimony (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship). Today, I would like to share with you a lesson that teaches about equality. I also really like this lesson because our unit of study is about segregation, so this ties nicely into what has been at the forefront of their learning each day these past 2 weeks and will be for the next 2 months. Therefore, this lesson would work well for anyone teaching about any topic that relates to equality, tolerance, or acceptance!
First, gather enough apples so that each student can have his or her own apple plus 2 or 3 extra. Have the students sit in a circle and pass an apple out to each. Students should study their apple very closely, looking for bruises, distinguishing marks, odd shape, etc. with the intention of being able to pick their apple out of a bunch.
Next, collect all of the apples and place them back into the bowl. At this moment, I asked students, "How can apples represent people?" We discussed how the apples are different colors, have different marks, are even different types, but in the end, they are all apples. It was very easy for them to make the connection of apples being like people, we are all different, but we are all human.
After this part of the conversation, I called each student separately to find their apple. It was amazing at how easily ALL of them picked theirs right out! After a student found his or her apple, I asked how he/she knew it was the one. The student would then point to a bruise or a darker red splotch or some other distinguishing trait the apple had and proudly say, "This is how I knew it was my apple!" I think they really started to connect with their apple and how it belonged to them. Maybe it was because some of them were petting their apple or even holding it like a baby - I don't know :)
Once all of the students had found their apple, we discussed the Quaker belief that there is the light of God in everyone. We talked about what that meant and how even that relates to our idea of apples being able to represent people. Some students were relating this to the segregation unit and said, "Some apples are darker, lighter, and almost a different color altogether, it doesn't mean that there wouldn't be the light inside of that apple (person) just because it looks different on the outside!" I was really impressed with the excitement and joy over being able to connect these ideas between each other.
Finally, I cut the apple in half (in the way that a star shows up in the middle) and showed the students that this star represents the light inside all of us. Then, I cut each of their apples to show them "the light of God within them". Afterwards, they ate their apples and we headed into Meeting For Worship.
I don't know that they will ever look at an apple the same again, and if I am really lucky, when this entire unit of study is over, they will never look at someone that's different from them and judge based on what is seen on the outside.