IU School of Social Work is headquartered on the IUPUI campus with locations on 8 IU Campuses. The school also has the Department of Labor Studies
Moppy, a beguiling mop head with blue eyes perched atop a red handle, is the face of a simple, understandable program that teaches children of all ages how to make right choices in life and what to do to should they make a wrong one.
Moppy is the title character of the book entitled, “Teaches Me To Make Right Choices.” It introduces the M.O.P. Rules, which are designed to get children to think before they act and speak. And just as importantly, it includes the 4 “A” S: admit, apologize, accept and amends, the steps they need to follow to correct a wrong choice.
The book was written by Dr. Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, Indiana University School of Social Work Interim Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at IUPUI, and is illustrated with drawings from students at Eden Harris Elementary School in Indianapolis.
The book is based on concepts developed by Susan C. Nichter, a graduate of the IU School of Social Work. Nichter developed the correct choices idea while working as a school social worker for more than 25 years. Over the years, Nichter developed six, 30-minute lessons and teachers would have her present them in their classrooms.
Dr. Gentle-Genitty, whose research interests include anti-social behavior and gang violence, was asked by Nichter to evaluate M.O.P. to provide an answer to a question she was often asked about the program – how do you know it works? Dr. Gentle-Genitty’s evaluation team determined the program is effective “for all participants regardless of their personal differences.”
Their evidence-based evaluation echoed the sentiments of educators who utilized the M.O.P. program. In 2003, the principal at an elementary school in Rush County, Ind. sent a letter endorsing the concept. “The M.O.P. and A.A.A.A. program is a common sense approach to helping students improve their social skills and developing respect for themselves and others,” the principal wrote. “I am very excited about the program’s progression. Discipline referrals are decreasing even as the end of the school year approaches.”
An at-risk counselor at an elementary school in Madison, Ind., wrote a letter to Nichter thanking her for sharing the M.O.P. program and noted, “We have totally embraced the concept school-wide and are amazed at how easy it is to incorporate the rules into what we were already doing.” She went on to note that following her presentation, “elementary students of all ages in our area are using the same language when talking about behavior issues.”
Nichter and the M.O.P. program were recently honored with the Program of the Year Award by the International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention.
While Nichter had created a program that educators saw as valuable, the lesson materials were contained in a binder and not readily available to anyone else.
“The book for me was something that needed to be done,” Dr. Gentle-Genitty said of her conviction it could give young people and adults alike a common approach to talking about behavior.
Dr. Gentle-Genitty said when she talks with gang members, she can’t help but think of M.O.P. “I wish they had some basic model of how to make a decision,” she explained. “This is so simple. I believe it will have a lasting impact,” as children learn at an early age how to make the right choices and understand there are consequences of making poor choices.
Dr. Gentle-Genitty explains in the book’s forward, the M.O.P. method is based on core values of honesty, responsibility and respect. It encourages thought, action and atonement and provides students, teachers, and parents a common language to discuss discipline.
The book explains that “right choices are available to everyone.” A key element of making a right choice is to stop and think before acting or speaking. Choices involve a wide range of actions: “Your attitude is your choice, your character is your choice and you make choices about how you speak and the kind of language you use,” she points out in the book.
Making the right choice is as simple as following the M.O.P. rules. M.O.P. stands for: Me, Others, and Property. M.O.P. rules ask three questions – Could this hurt me or get me into trouble? Could this hurt others or get others into trouble? And could this hurt somebody’s property? If the answer is yes to any of the questions, then don’t do it.
What happens if you made a wrong choice and you want to make it better? That’s where the 4As come in to play. The first step is to admit it. The second is to apologize by looking the person in the eye and saying, “I am sorry,” in a sincere way. The next step is to accept the consequences of your wrong choice. So if a child is told to go to their room, or they can’t play video games or watch TV, it’s the price they have to pay for a wrong choice. The final step is to make amends. Making amends means that if you are sorry, you should do more than simply say the words – you should try to show it. That means promising not to do it again and doing something that is kind, like fixing what might have been broken, replacing it or even sharing something of yours.
While Moppy differs from the usual academic endeavors Dr. Gentle-Genitty works on daily, she considers it to be one of the projects she is most happy about. “It was an opportunity to go into an elementary school, gather information from them, assess the program and then create something that can be used and read by elementary kids. It was a full circle,” she said.
The book is available at Amazon. A Kindle version or print version of the book costs $8.22. A curriculum that can be used by teachers to introduce M.O.P. into the classroom is being developed and will be available at Amazon.
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