Put This Into Practice

A Sticky Situation

Objective

Students will learn that once an action is completed, it is difficult to reverse the action.

Materials

  • Travel-size tubes of toothpaste (one for every three to four members)
  • Paper plates (one for every three to four members)

Time Required

5–10 minutes

Background

It is a timeless lesson: Some things, once they are done, can never be undone. But perhaps in the seemingly impermanent world of Facebook posts and tweets that can easily be deleted, Snapchat photo snaps that disappear in seconds, and left-swipes that can totally remove someone from your view, it is especially beneficial to reinforce the fact that our actions can have lasting consequences.

Procedure

Instruct students to squeeze out as much of the toothpaste onto the paper plate as they can. Members can get the toothpaste out in any way necessary. After the toothpaste is out, instruct the members to return all the toothpaste into the tube. It shouldn’t take them long to realize it’s an impossible task, though they may have some fun getting sticky fingers in the process.

Processing

Tell the members once the toothpaste is out, it is out for good. There is no returning it to its original state—just like some human actions. Once something is said, written, posted, or acted upon, it is difficult to return to the way things were before. No matter how temporary something might seem, everyone is held accountable for their actions. Here are some questions to encourage reflection and discussion:

  • When you say something to someone, can that be unheard?
  • When you post something online, can that be unseen?
  • When you complete an action, is it easy to undo?
  • What can you do to correct your actions?
  • Discuss being accountable for your actions as a student leader.
  • Can an action ever be completely undone?
  • What can you do to improve positive actions?

Holli Cline is a National Junior Honor Society adviser at Fairbanks Middle School in Milford Center, OH.