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Friday, August 5, 2011


Keys to Learning
This week I've been attending Teacher Inservice inorder to welcome kids back to a new school year on Monday. Part of our training involved Quantum Learning's discussion of Integrity. By definition, integrity means beliefs matching actions.

Align your actions with your values.
Live what you value.
If you value honesty, be truthful.
If you value keeping your word, follow through.
If you value being fair, do what you expect others to do.
Your identity is who you are. Your integrity is an expression of who you are.

I agree on a simple level, but life is not simple. What if one holds faulty beliefs? If one's actions match faulty beliefs does one still have integrity? Or, what if one's beliefs differ from society's? Does one place oneself in danger for actions to match beliefs? In other words, what does integrity really mean?

integrity |inˈtegritē|
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness  

I'll buy this, but folks disagree on what constitutes strong morals. For example, without taking sides I'll throw out words for thought:

hunting for sport
religious freedom
white supremacy

I know where I stand, but do I have a right to judge your integrity if we disagree? It depends on the issue and circumstance. In a school, it's easy. We want our children to make good choices that will not harm other people or property. Hopefully, each and everyone of my students know right from wrong, but I can't help thinking about a haunting novel I recently read.
Helmuth Hubener, age 16

"The Boy Who Dared," by Susan Cambell Bartoletti tells the true story of a teenager whose belief system clashed with the Nazis, and he took action to do something about it. During WWII, Helmuth Hubener broke the law by listening to banned BBC broadcasts and secretly distributing pamphlets that alerted German citizens of Hitler's hidden actions. As a result, the Gestapo arrested the boy and he was later tried for treason and put to death at age 17.

Although Hubener's beliefs clashed with those of his countrymen, I imagine we'd all see him as having high integrity. At the same time, if one would ask a Nazi if he has integrity after murdering Jews, most if not all would say, "Yes." They didn't see Jews as people; therefore, they had no guilt in killing innocents. Remember Quantum Learning: actions following beliefs equals integrity.

Although I'd like to think most people follow positive beliefs through their actions, few would risk their lives to do what's right in a corrupt environment. Would you?

Thank you Helmuth Hubener. I believe there is a special place in heaven for rare jewels like you.

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Sandee said...

There's a lot of people who do not see Jews as people. Still to this day.

Thou shall not kill. Enough said.

Have a terrific day. :)

Gwen Gardner said...

You're right - morals and ethics are very subjective as we well know after 9/11! Have you heard of Irena Sendler? She was a Polish Catholic social worker in German occupied Warsaw in WWI and at risk to her own life she snuck out 2500 children! It's a fascinating story. She was up for the Nobel Peace Prize a few years ago, but didn't win.
P.S. Great post - I voted again!

Jenn said...

Hubener paid the ultimate price for standing up for for what he knew was wrong--murder. I think you're right, there is a special place in heaven for him. Cheers, Jenn

Catch My Words said...

Thanks for the comments. @Sandee I know what you mean. If one doesn't like Jews, they should reject all Jewish contributions to society . . . but I don't think they'll feel well. @Lady Gwen I'm not familiar with Sendler but will google her. Thanks for voting. @Jenn Thanks for your constant support!

Go Green! said...

I'm a teacher, too! Hope you have a great school year!

Tammy and Mike said...

Hello, thank you for stopping by and visting our blog.

This novel sounds like an interesting and thought provoking read. I always enjoy reading historical non-fiction. Very good post.

Have a great weekend,

Mike said...

Great questions you raise. What I've seemed to notice is most little ones have an innate sense of right and wrong,and only learn to suppress it as they get older. Your story reminds me of a quote by MLK Jr."We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Catch My Words said...

Thanks for the comments! Remember that song from South Pacific?

You've got to be taught from year to year, to hate all the people your relatives fear . . . you've got to be taught before it's too late, to hate all the people your relatives hate."

I agree, Mike! Great MLK quote! @Green - Have a great school year. @Tammy & Mike - This novel is worth checking out! It was written for kids so that language is simple and the read is quick but engaging.

Rhonda Albom said...

Wow Joyce, a really thought provoking blog. You make some interesting points and raise some scary questions on integrity. You left me thinking about this one. Have a great school year. We are starting a new term today too.