For: Middle School, Upper Schol
Pathmaps Point: Values and Beliefs
Summary: This exercise begins with individual reflection, is followed by small group discussion, then ends with a larger group consensus about what makes things right and wrong. The aim is to give students greater insight into the sometimes complicated issues of what is right and wrong.
Who decides what is right or wrong?
Write this question on the board and then have students entertain whatever answers come to mind, writing their thoughts in journals for two minutes. Then invite students to come to the board (all at once, if the group is small, or a certain number at a time if the group is larger) and record the answers that came to them during their brainstorming. Be sure to indicate whether you want them to record only those sources they believe, or if they should also record sources they think other people believe as well.
Discuss what common themes or threads arise from what students have written on the board. Who is the authority you/we answer to?
What is right and what is wrong?
Write this question on the board and then have students journal, as above. Split students into groups of three or four people. Have them draw a table on a sheet of paper, coming up with three things that they all agree are "right" and three things that are "wrong".
Come back to the larger group and share these. Record all ideas on the board so that each group is validated in their thoughts and ideas. Allow conversation to flow from the comments made.
Note what the "right" items have in common, if such is the case. Do likewise with what is "wrong."
What do these "rights" and "wrongs" tell us about our community/culture/school or about this particular group of people?
Can you think of instances or events that were not so black and white?
Can you think of examples where your own values of right and wrong are in conflict with the values of your community/culture/school?
- Telling the truth vs being loyal to a friend
- Not cheating vs pursuing excellence
Rushworth Kidder, How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living (1995)
For a discussion of what is right morally versus what is right conventionally, see chapter 5 ("How We Think About Right and Wrong and Why It Matters...") in CSEE's Parenting for Character: Five Experts, Five Practices (2008)
See also Larry P. Nucci, Education in the Moral Domain (Cambridge University Press, 2001), especially chapter 1: "Morality and the Domains of Social Knowledge"