Teaching About Privilege

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Privilege refers to inequality in access to advantages based on belonging to a particular social class. This lesson plan supports middle and high school teachers who are teaching their students about privilege.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define class privilege and provide examples of privileges
  • Contrast earned and unearned privilege


This lesson will take 60-120 minutes.


  • computer/internet
  • highlighter
  • sticky notes (3 colors)
  • chart paper

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • class privilege
  • earned privilege
  • unearned privilege

Lesson Instructions

Activate prior knowledge by asking students to make a list of all the privileges they enjoy. Review the differences between earned and unearned privileges. Have students highlight the privileges they have earned. Have students turn and talk to a partner about why they receive unearned privileges and how they have benefited from these privileges.

Read the text lesson Class Privilege: Definition & Examples with students. Pause after the 'What Is Class Privilege' section to ask:

  • What are some examples of class privilege?
  • What are some factors that determine the advantages a person receives?
  • Why is it difficult for people with privilege to recognize it?

Read the remainder of the lesson with students. Ask:

  • What are the short-term and long-term effects of class privilege?
  • Why do you think it is important to be aware of privilege?
  • What are some earned privileges a person might receive?

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.

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