It seems like everyday is a screaming fest about right and wrong and everyone is convince they are right. As teachers we would like to say we empirically know what right and wrong is and can teach it but I’m not sure that is accurate.
The way things are going, 55% of us think A is right and 45% A is wrong. I’d like to think in schools we could at least hope for a 60-40 split but I don’t know anymore.
So wanting this to be a year where we confront the realities of this world I wanted a lesson that would set us up for unpacking systemic racism, issues of inequality and differences of opinions. I want kids to find a way to talk to express how they feel but listen to where the opinions come from.
I think I have come up with, or “acquired “a framework to have these conversation. The plan is to start with defining values, see how that shapes action and even conflict, and look at issues surrounding ethical behavior
So this is how I’d teach it:
To begin with I would have a discussion about value.
In the old universe this might mean raising hands or writing on stickers. This week I asked for an audible answer or a chat.
“What does it mean if something has value?”
For the most part the answers came in through the chat:
Next we pull up a handy dandy padlet to list individual items or ideas that the kids find important or valuable.
“ So if something is valuable it has v-a-l-u-e. BUT! Valuable things can BE a value. A Bentley is not a value, but it is valuable. So, if I ask you about
PEACE- LOVE -UNDERSTANDING- KINDNESS-TRUTH-HONESTY
Are these values? How do we decide “How” valuable that is?“
Then I post a question for the chat:
“How valuable is honesty in a best friend? Rate from 1-10. 1 not-10 an absolute must!“
So for the most part you will get 8-10. And from there you can acknowledge that honesty is something people value. It’s a thing you can’t see, hear, or touch but it is as almost as valuable as the shiniest coin!
As I have said a thousand times, this blog is not about the skill of building new, as much as curating resources to deliver instruction. So: VIDEOS. (If you don’t have a YouTube channel of your own. You need to set one up. It doesn’t mean you will have to start reviewing beauty products or pranking your neighbors. It will be a place to save all your video and categorize them)
This video is out of Texas from Austin University, , McCombs School of Business. They have an entire channel devoted to a variety of topics. This video not only highlights the kinds of values people hold, but shows them as motivating forces. In other words, people make personal choices, or take actions based on what they hold important to them.
This point leads to video 2 from Brain Pop. Brain Pop is another one of those educorps that you have to pay for but occasionally you can find one of their great videos for free. This one takes the discussion of values and extends it into ethical decision making. For my grade, 7th, this video is right on the money. Older students may need a different bridge.
So now we have some working definitions
Values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act one way or another. They serve as a guide for human behavior.
Moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.
So let’s have a fun discussion that’s timely.
I put this picture out:
I ask the kids to answer in the chat:
Q: What’s going on here?
a football game for only white people.
What year was this?
- . 2020
Then I explained it was 2020. Here in Seattle. It was a Christian Rock concert. I ask them what they wonder about. (Do you see where I am going?)
We then have a conversation about what these people are valuing. Is it different from what you may value? Are their behaviors ethical?
From here I asked my kids to write a reflection on the prompt:
Choose a position: Masks should always be worn, or Masks should be a choice.
- Make a claim about mask use
- choose at least one value that motivates you to wear or not to wear a mask
- Describe what values motivate the opposite position.
Another activity I did was have kids read this solid article from Scholastic on the death of George Floyd.
I introduced my students to the Depth and Complexity Icons, and they analyzed the article based on the Icon of Ethics. If you don’t know about these, they are a great resource and most of the stuff you can get for free.
Both of these activities have helped me set the table for the year. Everything that happens in literature, history, current events is tied back to actions, and the ethics behind them.
I have very clear ideas about masks, the Death of George Floyd, Climate Change. I want my kids to think about how they feel about this stuff too. I then want them to connect to values that drive their thoughts and actions.
I’m not sure these small activities will do that, but maybe its a start.