This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
June 15th, 2008
Are All Children at the Same Starting Gate?

It’s possible to take education for granted, especially in nations where schooling is a given for most of the population. And education can be — and often is — a vehicle for improving life chances. But for many children around the world, the path to education is filled with obstacles, often insurmountable.

In this lesson, students get a glimpse of education’s status, role, and impact in developing and developed nations; explore the factors that impede schooling; examine efforts to ensure universal access to education; and undertake a project that supports these efforts.

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12

Subject Matter: Social Studies, Behavioral Studies, Economics

Time Allotment: Each activity has a suggested time frame (based on 50-minute class sessions). Activities 1 and 2 can stand alone. However, 3 does not provide film viewing; it is an interesting lesson on evaluating strategies toward the improvement of global education.

Learning Objectives:

As a result of completing the lesson, the students will be able to:

  • reflect on and describe their personal educational experiences
  • enumerate and compare and contrast the factors that contribute to children’s educational experiences
  • determine whether global education goals, such as universal primary education, are achievable
  • design a class project that supports international or national efforts to improve education around the world; or a country-specific program, school/class, or student(s)

McREL: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Level III (Grades 6-8)
Level IV (Grades 9-12)

Behavioral Studies

  • Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior
    Level III: 5. Understands that various factors (e.g., wants and needs, talents, interests, influence of family and peers and media) affect decisions that individuals make
    Level IV: 7. Understands that family, gender, ethnicity, nationality, institutional affiliations, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the shaping of a person’s identity
  • Standard 4. Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions
    Level IV: 10. Understands that the decisions of one generation both provide and limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation


  • Standard 1: Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs
    Benchmarks Level III:
    1. Understands that scarcity of resources necessitates choice at both the personal and the societal levels
    2. Knows that all decisions involve opportunity costs and that effective economic decision making involves weighing the costs and benefits associated with alternative choices
    3. Understands that the evaluation of choices and opportunity costs is subjective and differs across individuals and societies
    Level III: 9. Understands that many noneconomic factors influence patterns of economic behavior and decision making
    Level IV: 5. Understands that in every economic system consumers, producers, workers, savers, and investors respond to incentives in order to allocate their scarce resources to obtain the highest possible return, subject to the institutional constraints of their society

Standard 4: Understands the physical and human characteristics of places
Level III: 1. Knows the human characteristics of places
Level IV: 1. Knows how social, cultural, and economic processes shape the features of places

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2021 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.