Monday, April 18, 2011

Three Cups of Tea or a Serving of Honesty

Tea-Drinking by Andrey Ryabushkin

This weekend I was working on a blog post about honesty, based on a discussion during our FAIR Massachusetts Humanities session. We read A Days Work by Eve Bunting and The Empty Pot by Demi. The discussion was rich and families shared personal stories about moments when they chose honesty over deception.

As storytellers and teachers we carry stories of integrity, honesty, generosity, fairness and respect into schools and libraries, and sometimes use real life examples of philanthropic men and women to frame our folktales. Gregg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea seemed to embody all of these ethics and more. Sadly, this weekend there have been questions from many authoritative fronts about the veracity of his work and organization.


One insightful article about this new dilemma is at The Book Bench - New Yorker.“Three Cups of Tea” and the Stories We Tell"  by Macy Halford

I sincerely hope Mr. Mortenson will reconsider and allow an unbiased accounting of his organizations funding, exonerate himself and undo the damage to his reputation.  At a time when too many people place pop musicians, actors, athletes and reality housewives on pedestals, now more than ever we need true heroes to emulate and respect.


A Boiled Seed Cannot Sprout - China

The Hidden Treasure
India * The tale is also accompanied by a teacher’s worksheet.

The Honest Penny - Norway

The Honest Thief - India

The Honest Woodcutter

Learning to Give - Twelve multicultural folktales about honesty.


Books that foster critical thinking.


First-School -

Learning to Give -

Teacher Planet – Many curriculum links, activities and more.

Character Connection – A useful pdf file filled with stories, activities and a word search.


Tall Tales - Parents can use this activity at any time, and while it seems like just a fun story, it can teach children that not telling the truth, or exaggerating the facts in a story can sound silly to someone else. Choose an event that happened while you were with the child, and make it into a story. For instance, you can tell a story of how you went camping last summer. As you tell the story, insert five untruths or exaggerations into the tale. They can be anything from encountering a bear, to changing what color tent you stayed in. See if the child can figure out the five facts that are not true in your story. From

1 comment:

Granny Sue said...

This morning on NPR a new book was discussed about a similar topic. The book, Tangled Webs, discusses what author James Stewart considers to be an epidemic of lying at the upper levels of professions. He chose the fields of politics (Scooter Libby), sports (Barry Bonds), business (Martha Stewart) and one other I can't recall to illustrate his point in the radio interview. His points are well-taken. You have addressed the same issue in this post, and it is certainly one that we need to be discussing. How sad that those in power feel immune to telling the truth. Good article, Karen.