Topic 2: How important are the reasons?
“Why can’t I have another ice cream?”
Children have a natural urge to ask “why?” and to seek reasons from their parents, carers and others. On the flip side, they may often make bold assertions without providing any associated reason at all:
“I get the first turn.”
Sometimes children resist considering reasons when making a decision:
“I don’t care what you say – I’m not going to share.”
In How important are the reasons, we aim to scaffold students’ thinking so that they begin to reflect on the processes of giving reasons themselves and unearthing the reasons of others.
Using stories and questions, we encourage children to think for themselves about:
- Whether it is important to have good reasons for what we believe and do; and
- Whether it is always okay to follow a directive or copy the behaviour of others without understanding the reasons on which the directive or action is based.
Why is it so important that our beliefs and decisions or choices (and the actions that flow from them) are based on good reasons? The obvious answer is that this strategy gives us the best chance of forming true beliefs and making the best decisions or choices, or in the case of moral judgments and actions, doing what is right.
Good reasons are relevant and strong, and in this topic the children practice working together to build good reasons, rather than reasons that are weak or not closely enough related to the questions asked. The skills required to identify and evaluate practice are revisited and practised in later topics.
Activity: Questions and reasons
This activity can be played with one or many people, and can include as many of the topics as you have time for! The aim is for children to practice giving reasons for their answers.
[Ask] What’s your favourite…song?
(Child gives an answer)
[Ask] Why do you like it so much?
Ask this question of every child. If you are playing with several children and they, at any stage, offer the same answer to a question, ask if they have a different reason, or can find another reason to explain why they like that thing.
Then move on to asking about any of the following topics, or you might like to make up your own. Encourage participation using comments like ‘interesting!’ and ‘aha!’ and ‘ok!’, particularly where some thinking has been involved!
- breakfast food
- TV show
- book or story
- day of the week
- month of the year
- thing to do on the weekend
- place to visit