I had my first visit of the year with the Paradise Canyon 6th Grade on Friday and the topic of the day was decision making. As the kids grow up, they gain the power and responsibility to make decisions for themselves, and we started by talking about how peer pressure can sometimes make it hard to make a good decision or how we sometimes make bad decisions when we let our emotions get the best of us.
That discussion led to a quick decision making exercise where the kids stand up or sit down based on the choices I give them (stand up for cake, sit down for pie, etc). Many of the kids got very worked up over the arbitrary choices I was throwing out, so when I was done I asked them to imagine how it would go if they were making decisions for real. I suggested to them that it might be a good idea to spend a little time thinking ahead to the typical situations we all go through from time to time (moments where peer pressure comes in to play) so that they have an idea of what they want to do when they are in that situation for real. If they think about how they would want to act beforehand, then they have a better chance of making a good decision (and not freezing up) when it counts.
We spent the remainder of class talking about a scenario involving a theft. A girl named Janet steals money at a convenience store. What are the consequences of her decision to steal? Is the risk worth the reward?
After some relevant personal stories about finding lost property, the class talked about why Janet should not have taken the money. First, $20 is absolutely not worth the consequences Janet faces if she gets caught. Secondly, even without thinking about the consequences, Janet shouldn’t take the money because stealing is wrong. We finished the scenario with a skit about Janet that involves 5 students, a gavel and some handcuffs. Lot’s of fun was had by all.
I finished the class by emphasizing that we should make decisions based on:
- what is the right thing to do, and
- what is the risk vs what is the reward involved.
We should always try to make decisions first on “what’s the right thing to do?” By 6th grade all of the kids know what they should or should not be doing as long as they take a moment to think about it first.