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What we can all learn about 义 - Doing Right

Introduction to 义 (Yì) in Chinese Philosophy

In Chinese philosophy, 义 (yì) represents the concept of righteousness, justice, and moral duty. It emphasises the importance of acting in accordance with moral principles and doing what is right, regardless of personal gain or loss. Yì is a fundamental virtue in Confucianism, where it is considered essential for maintaining social harmony and ethical behaviour. The Western philosophical equivalent of yì can be seen in concepts of justice and moral integrity, such as those discussed by philosophers like Immanuel Kant, who emphasised duty and moral law.

To teach yì to young children in schools, educators can incorporate stories and activities that highlight the importance of doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. Role-playing scenarios, moral dilemmas, and discussions about fairness and responsibility can help children understand and internalize the values of righteousness and justice. By engaging in these activities, children can learn to appreciate the significance of ethical behavior in their everyday lives.

As parents, you play a vital role in teaching your children about the value of doing right. We therefore thought it would be useful to provide you with a list of some practical ways to impart this value to your young children.

Set a Positive Example

Parents serve as powerful role models for their children. When teaching young children about doing right, you should therefore demonstrate ethical behaviours in your daily actions and interactions. This includes showing kindness, honesty, and respect towards others, including your children.

Engage in Moral Discussions

Initiate age-appropriate discussions about moral concepts and dilemmas. Talk about why certain actions are considered right or wrong, and encourage your child to share their thoughts and perspectives. This helps children develop their moral reasoning and understand the consequences of their actions.

Read Moral Stories

Choose books and stories that emphasize moral values and ethical decision-making. Discuss the characters' choices, their consequences, and the lessons learned. This allows children to connect abstract moral concepts to relatable situations and characters.

Encourage Empathy

Help children develop empathy by encouraging them to consider the feelings and perspectives of others. Talk about how their actions impact others and discuss ways to show kindness and understanding. Encourage acts of empathy such as helping a friend in need or comforting someone who is upset.

Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Guide children in resolving conflicts and ethical dilemmas. Encourage them to always consider the well-being of others. Teach them to think critically and evaluate the potential outcomes of different choices.

Practice Reflection and Apology

When children make mistakes, guide them in reflection by helping them understand the impact of their behaviour. Encourage them to apologise and make amends when appropriate. This teaches the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions.

Reinforce Positive Behaviour

Acknowledge and praise your child's acts of kindness, honesty, and fairness. Highlight examples of 'doing right' in their daily lives and express your appreciation for their efforts. This positive reinforcement reinforces the value of ethical behaviour and encourages children to continue practicing it.

Establish Family Values and Expectations

Discuss and establish clear family values that align with doing right. Involve children in the process, allowing them to contribute their thoughts and ideas. This creates a sense of shared responsibility and accountability within the family.

Encourage Critical Thinking

Foster critical thinking skills by asking open-ended questions that encourage children to consider ethical dilemmas from different perspectives. Encourage them to express their opinions, reason through scenarios and defend their choices. This helps children develop their moral reasoning abilities.

Promote Community Involvement

Engage children in community service or volunteer activities. Participating in charitable endeavours and acts of kindness allows children to experience first-hand the impact of doing right and develop a sense of social responsibility.

Remember, teaching children about doing right is an ongoing process. Be patient, provide guidance, and create an environment where open discussions and moral growth are encouraged. By instilling these values early on, parents can help shape children into individuals who make ethical choices and positively contribute to their communities and the world around them.

Recommendations for Children's Books Teaching Principles of 义 (Yì) or Moral Duty

empty pot"The Empty Pot" by Demi - This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a young boy named Ping, who is given a seed by the Emperor and asked to grow the most beautiful flower. Despite his best efforts, his pot remains empty, but his honesty is ultimately rewarded.

chair for my mother"A Chair for My Mother" by Vera B. Williams - After a fire destroys their home, a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother save their money to buy a comfortable chair. The story highlights their hard work, perseverance, and the value of saving for something important.Miss Rumphius

"Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney - The book follows Miss Rumphius as she strives to make the world a more beautiful place by planting lupine flowers everywhere she goes. It teaches children the importance of leaving the world better than they found it.the lorax

"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss -  This classic tale warns against the dangers of greed and environmental destruction, emphasizing the importance of taking care of our planet. The Lorax speaks for the trees, teaching children about responsibility and stewardship.last stop on market street 

"Last Stop on Market Street" by Matt de la Peña This story follows a young boy named CJ and his grandmother as they ride the bus across town, observing the world around them. Through their journey, CJ learns to appreciate the beauty and goodness in everyday life and the importance of empathy and kindness.paper bag princess

"The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch When a dragon destroys her castle and kidnaps her prince, Princess Elizabeth bravely sets out to rescue him. The story turns traditional gender roles on their head and emphasizes self-reliance and determinationstone soup

"Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown - This folktale tells the story of three hungry soldiers who trick a village into sharing their food by making a pot of "stone soup." The villagers learn the value of sharing and community.the boy who harnessed the wind

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (Young Readers Edition) This inspiring true story of a young Malawian boy who builds a windmill to save his village from famine teaches resilience, innovation, and the importance of using one's talents for the greater good.story of the zodiac

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac" by Dawn Casey - This story explains how the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac were chosen through a race organised by the Jade Emperor. It highlights the values of fairness, integrity, and wisdom.Ballad of Mulan

"The Legend of Mulan: A Folding Book of the Ancient Poem" by Anonymous and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang - This beautifully illustrated book retells the ancient Chinese poem about Mulan, a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father's place in the army. Mulan's story embodies duty, bravery, and sacrifice.dragon prince

"The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale" by Laurence Yep - In this retelling of a traditional Chinese tale, a poor farmer's daughter is taken by a dragon prince. Through her kindness and sense of duty, she transforms the prince and restores harmony.the magic paintbrush

"The Magic Paintbrush" by Julia Donaldson - Based on a Chinese folk tale, this story follows a young girl named Shen who receives a magic paintbrush that brings her drawings to life. She uses her gift to help others, demonstrating selflessness and righteousness.runawaay wok

"The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale" by Ying Chang Compestine - This modern story tells of a magical wok that brings fortune to a poor family by taking food from the rich and giving it to the poor. It emphasizes fairness, generosity, and moral justice.

Lon Po po

"Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China" by Ed Young - A Chinese version of the Red Riding Hood tale, where three sisters outwit a wolf posing as their grandmother. The story highlights bravery, cleverness, and the moral duty to protect one's family.

These books offer engaging stories that can help children understand and internalize the principles of 义 (yì), teaching them about moral duty, integrity, and ethical behavior through relatable characters and meaningful narratives.