It's October, and this month in St. Johns' innovative Character Foundations program, students from age 3 through Grade 12 are learning about and putting into practice integrity, which is defined as choosing to be truthful in whatever you say and do.
Throughout their lives, students are going to have times when it is tempting to blame someone else for something, to hide a mistake, or just avoid an uncomfortable truth. It's important to teach and stress integrity so that students know that these experiences are uncomfortable, and that's okay. But you persevere and proceed with integrity, and you'll get through it and feel much better on the other side for having acted honestly.
"I often see students whose initial response is to deflect blame or hide the truth out of fear of consequences or judgement," says Director of Student Services Diane Landers. "However, the relief that comes with telling the truth and unburdening the guilt of deception always proves to be the greater reward. It's a hard but very valuable lesson to learn."
This month, faculty will be asking students to think of a time when it was hard to tell the truth but they did anyway. How did that make them feel? Were they scared to tell the truth because they thought they might get into trouble? Next, students will think of a time when they told a story, fib, or white lie. What happened as a result of telling the lie?
Students will be encouraged to ask a grown up:
- Has there ever been a time when you told a friend a lie? Explain.
- Share a story of a time when you told the truth and did the right thing even though you risked getting into trouble by doing so. Explain the outcome.
The Disney classic Pinocchio is a perfect example of how being dishonest only increases the
problem. Viewers are able to visually see Pinocchio’s nose grow with every fib and white lie
he tells. While this is simply a figurative way of teaching honesty, we can see how this relates
to real life. One way to bring lessons about integrity home is to watch Pinocchio together, then think of real life consequences of being dishonest and discuss them with your family.
As a family, discuss ways to be honest with others. Talk about how to accept responsibility for
one’s actions rather than telling a lie. You might want to talk about how to avoid situations in
which you might be asked to lie for another person. Talk about how integrity is a choice.
Read All About It
There are books about integrity for students of all ages. Try reading and discussing some of the following:
- The Boy Who Cried Ninja by Alex Latimer (K-2)
- Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth by Bill Harley (3-5)
- A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting (K-5)
- Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey (PK-1)
- A Big Fat Enormous Lie by Marjorie Sharmat (K-3)
- The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia McKissack (K-3)
- The Empty Pot by Demi (K-5)
- Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra (K-3)
- I Repeat, Don’t Cheat! by Margery Cuyler (K-5)
- Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin (K-2)
- This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (PK-2)
- The Big Fib by Tim Hamilton (PK-1)
- The Lying King by Alex Beard (1-5)
- Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli (4-6)
- Deadline by Chris Crutcher (9-12)
- Liar by Justine Larbalestier (9-12)
- Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (8-12)
- Cut by Patricia McCormick (7-10)
- What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (6-12)
- What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones (8-12)
- Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (6-9)
- I Am J by Chris Beam (9-12)
- Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard (10-12)
- The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (7-10)