Wednesday, July 14, 2010

scaffolding integrity

How can we practically scaffold ethics for children? is a question that lives in my conscience for a few years already. One of my posts tries to give an example of how to scaffold à la Vygotsky, this is to find the zone of proximal development and to elevate thinking accordingly. For a few years I have tried to work this on myself. My challenge was to translate a Mussar (Jewish ethics) course to Dutch and at the same time teach it to someone else. This way of keeping busy with ethics had a profound impact on myself. For every word I had to think if the meaning is what I think it is. It is interesting that in different languages different ideas exist because of language. Integrity doesn't have an adjective in English, it has in Dutch. Does this imply the Dutch percieve integrity as a quality someone can own whereas English percieve it as a state? On the site Integrious a new adjective is proposed : integrious.
Then I tried to teach my children, which is difficult because my own children are more sceptical towards me than children of others. The best result for getting their attention is to naturally blend it into other activities, such as walking & cooking. Another way is to discuss concepts. "What is integrity? Why is it important?" and give them the right books wich provide historical knowledge at the level that is just above their reasoning skills. For my dyslectic son this means I don't look at his technical level of reading but at his level of understanding spoken language and interest. He simply reads it slower. The younger children I explain what integrity is with an example and ask if they think it is good how someone acts, also when we watch television. I get the best result when I have joy doing it. But I keep observing that scaffolding integrity needs construction of logical thinking as well. How to divide sweets in a integrious way needs being able to divide numbers in equal parts. Letting children play with buttons or stones to learn about amounts may be a prerequisite for a more ethical society. The mindmapping of numbertheory is not that distant from scaffolding ethics, nor is playing with buttons and puppets.

*new* item at Chez Odile is the metachat where Creatives and Thinkers meet.

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