Social Justice Snakes and Ladders

Teach your students about social inequality with this classic board game

Most people know the board game Snake and Ladders. You may even have a version of it at home that you may be able to adapt for your purposes. You can also find printable templates of the game online (e.g. here). Of course you can create an entirely new set if you like and have the skills!

More important are the rules - this is where your creativity and perhaps some research is needed to make this an effective activity. You need to create the reasons for a player to either advance ahead or is hold back. These reasons shouldn't be randomly picked and are best backed up with some solid evidence (that's where the research comes into it). You can cover any type of social injustice and also define a specific context to frame the issue. Players can play with differently coloured game pieces which represent the privileged vs. the disadvantaged group. Different rules will apply to the different colours (i.e. groups).

For example, the issue of gender inequality in the work world. There could be two player types - blue representing men, red representing women. Most obvious reasons for set-backs for women could be baby-break, low aspirations for leadership aspirations, passed over for promotion, child sick etc. Typical reasons to advance for a man could be a promotion or a pay-rise. In order to not make the game too one-sided and more importantly to demonstrate that gender stereotypes are hurting men as well as women, also make sure you introduce some less obvious set-backs and advances. For example, a set-back for a man could be: you're a teacher, wrong career choice or you're not getting flexible hours to look after your child. Also some advances for women could be: you get paid parental leave or you can work from home when necessary.

It's completely up to you to create these rules - but the more evidence you provide to back these rules up (e.g. studies, statistics) the better. You should definitely follow up the game with a guided discussion.

Resources: old Snake and Ladders game, printer, computer, internet, paper