I truly enjoyed the last of my junior achievement classes – this one teaching 4th graders “business ethics.”
When I ran the examples from Seth Godin’s latest book by them (i.e., Johnson lying to congress to get funding for Vietnam and Prudhomme’s promotion of red fish which almost led to their extinction), they had no problems distinguishing the ethical from the unethical. When we talked about the fictitious pencil company needing trees to produce pencils – they understood why in the long run it makes sense to take less profit upfront in order to re-plant trees. And when they role-played being on the board of directors of a company that polluted the air to the point where their workers became sick – they made the right decisions…
But then I tried to come up with an example that would be a bit closer to their world. The question was – what would you do if your best friend tells you that he or she is about to hurt some other kid?
- Answer 1 (majority of the kids) – go tell someone else (teacher, parent, etc.)
- Answer 2 (1 kid) – try to convince my friend not to do it before telling someone else
- Answer 3 (1 kid) – never tell on your best friend
- Answer 4 (1 kid) – it depends on who he or she is about to hurt…if I don’t like that person then I would not tell