Summary of Book Themes

by michael on November 10, 2010

Author’s Summary Statement
The Good, The Bad and The Difference: How to Talk with Children About

The Good, The Bad and The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values has been a work in progress for more than twenty years. Its conception began as I lay on a bed in Porter Hospital, Denver, Colorado, after undergoing open heart surgery on December 21, 1989. My aortic valve had become infected and I would not survive without a replacement. Essentially bed-ridden for five weeks after the surgery, antibiotics infused into me four hours a day, I had a lot of time to think. I was grateful to have survived and I knew I had been blessed.

I had received the best medical care in the world from doctors and staff of unsurpassed skill and dedication. As a consequence, I felt, as I had come to phrase it, I owed a cosmic debt. The manner I deemed best to repay that debt was to teach diligence, pride, honor, ethics and moral reasoning to young children. During those weeks I conceptualized a roughly outlined program for teaching those values and skills. My oldest child, Elise, was then in first grade at Cherry Hills Village Elementary School, located south of Denver. I discussed my ideas with Elise’s teacher and school principal and was given cautious permission to teach in her classroom. I have been granted the honor of presenting my evolving program in Denver-area public and private school classrooms since March, 1990 and continue to do so presently at Ebert Polaris Elementary School.

My book presents a template for teaching moral reasoning skills and ethics to young children. It is divided into four sections. Section I defines good, introduces the Moral Measures, the measurement tool for determining and comparing the morality of events, thoughts and consequences, and also presents several moral reasoning skills. Section II offers detailed discussions about four ethical principles: Autonomy, Beneficence, Justice and Sanctity of Life. Section III offers detailed discussions on seven virtues and skills beginning with the letter ‘C,’ –Character, Choices, Compassion, Competence, Conscience, Consequences and Courage—justifying my whimsical section title, ‘Sailing the Seven C’s.’ Section IV offers in-depth discussions on three topics—the Kitty Genovese murder, the allegory of the egret and the scorpion and the array of ethics and virtues found in Super Bowl athletes and those in other athletic competitions. Section IV ends with the chapter “All Roads Lead to Home,” which describes the unique importance, legitimacy and expectations of parents as moral leaders.

Several overarching themes pervade the The Good, The Bad and The Difference:
1. That good and bad can be measured, contrasted and evaluated.
2. That when good is identified and measured, people are more motivated to do good.
3. That parents are, as a general rule, the best and most credible disseminators of morality and ethics.
4. That children want and expect moral leadership from their parents. Children must no only know that parents are in charge. Children should know that parents deserve to be in charge.
5. That any parent or other adult can acquire the skills to be proficient and entertaining in teaching ethics and moral reasoning to children. and
6. That spending time with your children talking about ethics and other serious matters can be a soul-churning joy.

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