DIGGING DEEPER: The Lessons to be Learned from Junie B. Jones

ENGLISH TEACHER AND BOARD MEMBER FOR LYRIC ARTS, OLIVIA BASTIAN TAKES A DEEPER DIVE INTO THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK

Can the pillars of ethics:  trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, citizenship, and more be taught?  Educators and scientists alike say yes.  Most experts say that by the age of 2 or 3, children start to experience emotions relating to events they see as right or wrong.  By 4 or 5 years of age these feelings develop into a fundamental sense of fairness.  This notion of fairness evolves throughout the rest of childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Children learn ethics through the issues of fairness in their own lives.  For example, praising a child as being a big helper or one who shares causes the child to see himself/herself as a helper or one who shares.  Then, in the future, if the child does not exhibit sharing or helping he/she thinks, "I am a helper/one who shares, but I did not help/ share this time.  I need to behave differently in the future."

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Here are some things you can do to encourage a child to behave in an ethical way:

1.  Start with your own example.  If we always base our decisions on what we believe is right, that will mean more to a child than hours of lecturing.

2.  Take time to talk about issues of right and wrong with the child.

3.  When you watch TV or movies with a child, look critically at the way the characters behave and have a discussion about it.

4.  Be sensitive to what a child says about decisions involving right or wrong.  Don't hesitate to correct statements like, "It doesn't matter--nobody will find out" or "Everybody does it."

5.  Encourage a child to think about whether something is right or wrong before acting.

UNDERSTANDING RIGHT AND WRONG

Finally, how do children go about knowing what is right or wrong?  How do they make decisions?  First of all, keep in mind that some decisions we make aren't terribly important.  For example, you might decide to have chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, but other decisions may involve a choice between right and wrong, and sometimes if's not easy to know what to do.  Whenever a person is not sure what's the right thing to do, stop and think! 

Ask these questions: 

A.  What does my conscience--"that little voice inside my head"---say about it?

B.  Could it hurt anyone--including me?

C.  Is it fair?

D.  Would it violate the Golden Rule? (How would I feel if somebody did it to me?)

E.  Have I ever been told that it's wrong?

F.  Deep down, how do I feel about it?

G.  How will I feel about myself later if I do it?

H.  What would adults I respect say about it?

Much research suggests that learning ethical behavior should begin at an early age.  All of these suggestions can help in learning ethical decision-making behavior, as can the reading of children's books on the topic and attending plays like Junie Jones is Not a Crook!  Enjoy the play!

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PHOTO CREDIT: Twin Cities Headshots

PHOTO CREDIT: Twin Cities Headshots

Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook
May 3–12, 2019

Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook finds Junie B facing tough decisions about what is right and wrong.  She confronts the moral dilemma of defining the differences between “finding” something and “stealing.” All young girls face these moments of morality each day and this show is a delightful portray of Junie’s experience and how she navigates her way through the situation.



Works Cited:

goodcharacter.com
Taylor Hicks Elementary School,  prescottschools. com
Teaching tolerance, Issue 49, Spring, 2015, "Learning to Be Good."