Lesson 1: Choices and Consequences
Our choices affect ourselves. Our choices affect others.
||We start by creating a plot showing how our choices
affect ourselves (x-axis) and how our choices affect others (y-axis.)
We label our quadrants, as shown, and post our chart where students
can view it. We start with a discussion of what the quadrants imply.
Quadrant 1 could be called the friendship or community quadrant.
Here we represent all the choices that I can make that are good for
both me and the others involved. These are the choices that help me
make and keep friends.
Quadrant IV could be called the selfish quadrant. These are
all the choices I can make that benefit me but harm others.
Quadrant III could be termed the spite or anger quadrant. This
represents all the choices I can make that harm both myself and others.
Typically, these types of choices are primarily in anger or spite. It
is not unusual to see a child hurt himself when he is so angry he want
to hurt someone else.
Quadrant II could either be the altruism quadrant or the fool's
quadrant. These are all the choices that help others but harm me. Sometimes
it is good for an individual to accept self-sacrifice for the good of
the community. Young learners need to recognize this. But sometimes accepting
self-sacrifice for others is a fool's choice. Unfortunately, learning
to distinguish between altruism and foolishness is quite challenging.
Students should readily recognize that most choices should be first quadrant
choices. They should be able to quickly reason that third quadrant choices
are never good. With some guidance they should recognize that choices
that seem unfair because they benefit others more than self are still
better choices than choices that harm either others or self.
Once we have instructed students to understand the quadrants, we can
use the plot to give students feedback on their decisions. When a student
chooses a certain behavior we can ask him guided questions.
- How did your choice or behavior affect you?
- How did your choice or behavior affect others?
- What quadrant represents your choice? Did your choice promote friendship?
- If it was not a first quadrant choice, could you have made a first
quadrant choice in this situation?
- Can you help your peers to make more first quadrant choices?
With repetition and feedback students can learn to recognize and discuss
the consequences of their choices.
Lesson 2: Moral vs. Ethical
Raising the young involves teaching right vs. wrong. However, we must
not teach this dichotomy as mutually exclusive. Avoiding wrong choices
is not the same as making good choices. Making mostly good choices does
not negate the impact of the harmful choices one makes. The ultimate growth
step will prove to be recognizing in ourselves what we dislike or like
||Wrongs one should not do
||Good things one should do
How others impact me
What wrong things should other be prevented from doing?
What sins should others be judged for?
What good things should others do?
How do we reward them?
How I impact others
What wrong things should I avoid doing?
Ethics / Ideals
What good deeds should I do?
Who should I help?
How should I help them?
As we did in lesson 1 above, we can make a chart in 2 dimensions. But,
unlike above, the regions in this chart represent logical sets, not positive
and negative. We develop our sets by looking at both good vs. wrong, and
other vs. self.
Although are chart exists in two dimensions it hints at a somewhat linear
sequence in stages of ethical development. The young child is dependent
and very sensitive to that which harms him. He sees the world in terms
of moralism - the wrong and unfair things that others do tome. From this
it becomes easier for us to teach children morality - the wrong that they
should not do. He yearns for others to treat him fairly and do what will
be good for him and his team - idealism. Ultimately, he must learn to
be ethical - he must learn to do what is good for others.
Again, we can use the chart to help students reflect on their decision,
and their judgments of others.
- Did your actions hurt or help others?
- Did the actions of the others help or hurt you? If you were them what
different choices would you have made?
- Consider the consequences of your choices? Are you making choices
that impact others the way that you would want to be affected?
- Are you willing to make the same choices that you expect others to
Lesson 3: Short-term vs Long-term Consequences
The two discussions above leave out a critical component in developing
ethical thinking. Our choices always have short-term easy to see consequences,
and long-term harder to see consequences. We can chart these also.
Costs & Risks
In this case, students will need guidance filling in the blanks. But
the chart can be applied to many situations. Many boys want to make the
big play and be seen as the star. But their choices could cost the game
or undermine the team. The class clown wants to be funny now. He does
not see what this might cost him or his friends in the long run. The young
child wants to play and avoid work. He does not see that he will still
have the work to do later, when it might be even harder. Students may
be guided to reason about long term costs by filling in the chart follow
Unfortunately adults can be just as weak as children when it comes to
examine long term consequences of short term choices. Think of how many
adults smoke or have found themselves deeply in debt.
Again, this lesson takes much repetition.
- Why are you making this choice now?
- How will it affect you in the long term?
- If you go for the benefits now will it make you any more able to face
the costs later?
Mathematical reasoning may be applied to any aspect of experience - some
much more successfully than others. Experience can motivate students to
understand new concepts such as negatives or abstract spaces. These lessons
may be used either to use charting and graphing to motivate ethical reasoning,
or to use ethical reasoning to motivate understanding of quadrants and
negatives. The lessons give one example of how math crosses over into
other aspects of experience.