Character education teaches universal moral law, that is, moral expectations which are the same around the world. Just as there are universal physical laws such as gravity and inertia, there are universal moral laws re­garding right and wrong. These laws transcend culture, history and religion. For example, the Golden Rule is a universal moral law, as are six of the Ten Command­ments. There are universal values such as respect, re­sponsibility, honesty, kindness, fairness and civility.
            There are also consequences when universal laws are broken. These consequences come from nature so are called natural consequences. For example, if a person touches a hot stove the natural consequence is to be burned. If one student hurts another, the natural conse­quences are emotional pain, anger, a wish for revenge and a withdrawal of friendship. Students need to be made aware of the natural consequences of their actions.
            More often teachers and authority figures impose consequences of their own. Teachers deal out detentions, staying in from recess, going to the office and other penalties. These are imposed consequences. When teachers focus on imposed consequences, students may not realize the natural consequences taking place. These natural consequences are more significant. The question we want students to think about is less, “What will you do to me if I get caught?” and more “What am I doing to myself and others, whether I get caught or not?” “You are only hurting yourself” has to be explored and exam­ined in greater detail. How are they hurting themselves? Encourage your students to examine the natural conse­quences of breaking universal moral laws.
Here are questions to ask students:
What happens when someone does something wrong? What if the person is caught? What if the person is not caught? What are the natural consequences of:
            a. shoplifting?
            b. vandalism?
            c. violence?
            d. cheating?
            e. being late to class (tardiness)?
            f. skipping class?
            g. using inappropriate language?
            h. peer cruelty?
            I. not paying attention in class?
            j. doing sloppy work?
            k. not doing assignments?
Divide students into small groups and have them brain­storm natural consequences. Or turn this into a worksheet and ask students to fill in their own answers. They can take the worksheet home and ask for family input.


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