Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teaching Children How to Cope with Making Right vs. Right Decisions

Gilbert and Bob have been friends since 1st grade. Bob’s parents frequently argue and just last night his father stormed out leaving his mother sobbing. Gilbert is the only one Bob has confided in about what has been going at home. Today, Bob arrives at school with shadowed eyes, and Gilbert knows that Bob’s father must have left again.

Later that day in 7th grade science, a test was distributed to the students after a brief reminder about cheating. Bob anxiously stares at the paper. If he fails another test he will not pass this class. Without a word, Bob glances toward Gilbert and nods at the paper he has been staring at blankly for ten minutes. Gilbert is frozen for a moment. The words to the school’s honor code float through his mind as he notices that Bob has already copied two of his answers.

Would we all consider it right, through the eyes of a 7th grader, to have mercy on his best friend? Or do we expect Gilbert to assure clear justice by reporting the cheater? Should we teach our children to value loyalty to a friend over telling the truth? Or should we raise him to tell the truth no matter what the cost? How does anyone choose between the rights of the one we love and the rights of the community to which we belong?

Teaching our children right from wrong is fairly simple. Teaching them how to navigate between the values they know and then activate their courage to make the best choice can be tricky. Join Greensboro Day School in welcoming Pat Bassett, former advisory board member at the Institute for Global Ethics and former board member of the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, as he talks with parents about this important topic. September 25 at 7:00pm in the GDS Center for the Arts. Admission is free.