Teaching character education one pillar at a time – Part 4: Fairness

It’s all about being fair when taking turns, following rules and understanding how decisions, no matter what age.

Michigan State University 4-H Youth Programs offers youth ages 5 – 19 years old a chance to learn new skills, make decisions and healthy choices and to have fun. Whether youth join a 4-H club or attend a one-time training, character education can be incorporated in the program or club meeting. Now more than ever, character education needs to be on the agenda.

In 1992, Michael Josephson brought together a group of educators to create the Six Pillars of Character—core ethical values for youth to learn and adapt. The six pillars are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. In this fourth article, we will discuss fairness and how it can be practiced.

Fairness means:

  • Play by the rules
  • Take turns
  • Be open minded, listen
  • Treat others fairly

The color used for fairness is orange. When working with younger-age children, incorporate the color orange in food snacks such as oranges. When doing paper activities, have some orange paper or paint so kids can acquaint fairness to the color orange.

In the resource book, “Good Ideas to Help Young People Develop Good Character,” many activities are listed from grades K–12, listing the overview, materials needed, what the setting is and the procedure on how to lead the activity. In idea #68 of the book, children see how important rules are to make sure fairness and equal opportunity are given. If the youth are going to play a game of soccer or any other type of field game, don’t give them any rules to follow. Once they begin to play, see what happens and then bring the teams together to sit down and discuss rules, fairness andwhat happens when we don’t play by the rules.

Another activity for older youth is to have a teen court (idea #101). Talk about the jury system and have students participate in a mock trial. Have students play the different roles you would find in a trial setting such as a prosecutor, defender, defendant, jurors and a judge. Give students a case to review and role play it out. Talk about fairness, laws and rules after the decision has been made. Give students a chance to discuss their thoughts and feelings.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 impact report: “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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