Students are inundated with the perfection depicted on social media. As a result, I see more and more that my students feel inferior to their peers and have a hard time dealing with their feelings when others achieve or receive more than they do. As students are applying to jobs and colleges, making athletics teams, and receiving year-end awards, second semester is always a good time to remind students to focus on their own unique gifts.
Students will look at and discuss their jealous tendencies, identifying sources and techniques to avoid the pitfalls.
- A notecard and writing utensil for every student
- A clear cup of water, green food coloring, and bleach
- Any tower-building supplies including—but not limited to—spaghetti, tape, pens, pipe cleaners, string, paper clips, etc., presorted in bags
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As a warm-up activity, have students independently brainstorm things that might happen to their friends (or people around them) that make them jealous. They should write those situations down on their notecards.
Next, bring out the glass of water and the green food coloring. Explain that the water represents the student and the food coloring represents jealousy. Ask for volunteers to (one at a time) share with the group situations that cause them to experience feelings of jealousy. As each person shares, pinch a drop of the food coloring into the water. Ask the students:
- Is it possible to separate all those different moments of jealousy?
- Is it possible to move the food coloring to just one part of the cup?
- Where do you think jealousy comes from?
After a discussion, pour some bleach into the cup. What happens? (Note that while the solution will lighten, it will not turn completely clear.) Ask students, what happens to feelings of jealousy if they are not fully dealt with?
Watch Gabrielle Union’s speech from the 2013 Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Ask students:
- What does it mean to “tap dance on someone’s misery”?
- Can you think of a time when you have done that?
- What does it mean for someone’s shine to diminish your own?
- How can we prevent feeling that way?
- How can someone else’s light make your light shine brighter?
Break students into small groups and hand them the presorted tower-building supplies. Every group should have a different selection of items. When you give the word, they will be responsible for building the tallest tower. Say, “Go!”
It will not take long for students to realize that some groups have an unfair advantage by receiving objects that are more beneficial for building than others. Encourage groups to continue to build, noting comparative statements.
After time ends, judge the tower heights and verbally reward the winning team. Then, have students process how they felt knowing groups had different supplies.
Watch Chelsea Handler’s “How I Deal With Jealousy” video.
- What does “there is room for everybody” mean?
- Instead of “blowing out someone else’s candle,” what are good ways to deal with jealous feelings?
- What does Mark Scharenbroich, a renowned youth speaker, mean when he says, “Stop comparing crayons and just color”?
Julie Kasper is activities director at Century High School in Hillsboro, OR.