Letters extra: Bullying - should I tell?

3rd March 2004 at 00:00

I was surprised to read about the so-called "dilemma" in the article "Teaching children to do the right thing" (TES 20.02.04):nbsp;"Your friend wants to borrow your new Powerpuff Girls pencil. But it's yours, so you don't want to lend it to her. What do you do?"

nbsp;I was taken aback because this was not the dilemma discussed during the training at Manorbier primary school, Pembrokeshire. Furthermore, it is one I would never chosen as it doesn't involve any difficult moral decisions (something that was immediately understood by 11 year old Sophie!). As I told your journalist, what really happened was that the children worked through the dilemma of whether or not they should tell their teacher when they were bullied. The class was divided on the issue. With my help they themselves uncovered the principles involved (which is why it is a moral decision). The principles were honesty, right to an education and fairness on the one hand (telling the teacher) and autonomy and loyalty on the other hand (not telling the teacher).

The journalist pressed me to quote "sweet things the children had said". Instead I told her that I had been astonished by the complexity of their reasoning, and how adults continue to underestimate children's capacity for complex thought. Giving children the thinking tools to make morally better decisions is only the first step in a school integrity programme. After training governors, staff and parents, the rules and ethical codes for the school are developed but on the basis of their own real dilemmas.

Dr Karin Murris


DialogueWorks Ltd

The Old School Business Centre

Newport SA42 0TSnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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