Tag Archives: three little pigs

THE SAGACIOUS SECOND GRADERS!

AN ACCOUNT OF EXPERIENCING A CRFC EVENT FIRST HAND

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend one of CRFC’s educational and interactive events at Swift Elementary School, Chicago. The concept is a unique approach to understanding and setting the foundation of our country’s laws and justice system.

I’m sure each of us is aware of the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs’. I, for one, remember my grandmother reading it to me during bedtime. The big bad wolf “huffs and puffs and blows the house in”. I have acute memories of trepidation, followed by relief at the eventual thwarting of the wolf and the safety of the pigs. But what if, the story had a different ending? Even more so, what if the wolf had his own story to tell? In an adorable, yet incredibly insightful twist, the team at CRFC converted the fable into a court proceeding – State v. Wolf!

Ms. Fran and Mr. Stan Pig are the plaintiffs – filing the suit for destruction of property and possible intent to murder, against Mr. B.B. Wolf. Mr. B.B. Wolf, is exercising the right to retain an attorney, and is contesting the case, by claiming accidental and unintentional damage. The video proceeds like an actual court hearing, with opening and closing statements, and testimonies from both the defendant and the plaintiffs. The jury is also presented with facts and pictorial evidence, to sustain the claim of each party.

The best part about this video is that it was shown to Ms. Mary Howard’s second grade class at Swift Elementary School. There were 12 attorney volunteers from Baker & McKenzie LLP, Kraft Foods Global, Inc. and Schiff Hardin LLP, who sat down with the kids in groups of 3, to brainstorm the case, the facts presented and the evidence. The kids of course, were acting as jurors, deciding the fate of Mr. B.B Wolf.

And boy – was I bowled over by these witty little youngsters!

Seven out of the 10 groups, found Mr. B.B Wolf NOT GUILTY!! And the observations and discernments presented by each of the groups, makes you marvel at the intelligence and exposure of today’s youth. These 7 year-olds, argued and supported facts to sustain Mr. Wolf’s rights as a citizen. They pointed out certain baseless biases, which we as adults often overlook. They were ever-willing to give the defendant a second chance, and followed-up their decisions by intelligent insights. One child got up to point out that “there was no evidence that the wolf wanted to harm the pigs. He had many interactions with the pigs earlier, and if so desired, he could have harmed them earlier. Clearly he had a cold, which blew down the house of sticks. He is most certainly innocent”. Seeing their cherubic faces, blazing with intelligence and understanding, made me wish I had such brain-stimulating activities, when I was growing up.

This wonderful exercise reaffirmed my faith that the next generation is going to be brought up with fair, just and informed decisions. A line in the video says, “Just because one wolf is bad, doesn’t mean they all are”. This, to me, hits such a deep and profound nerve. This concept combats intolerance and irrational prejudices among young people. The volunteer attorneys were simply marvelous, explaining each point to their group, and never once offering a judgment – thus allowing the children to form an opinion for themselves. The munchkins, in their jackets and ties – all jurors for the day, performing their civic duty – were the cherry on the cake!

All in all, a simply fabulous experience! (One that made me realize, that kids today, are smarter than us!). I can’t wait for the next one!

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 20140218_184037 - CopyJune 13, 2014

By Palak Shukla.

Ms. Shukla is CRFC’s Summer Marketing and Communications intern. She is originally from Mumbai, India has 3 years of experience in Communications. She is now studying Digital Media at Loyola University.

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The Cup of Sugar and Bad Cold Defense

by Anita Dellaria
Elementary/Middle Schools Program Manager
Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago


“‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in,’ said the Wolf. So he huffed and he puffed and he blew his house in.”

Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts
Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts

One of Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago’s civic learning  events is a jury experience conducted with 2nd and 3rd grade students in Chicago public elementary schools. The trial is State v. Wolf based on The Three Little Pigs and the outcome might surprise you.

We all know the story. A belligerent wolf pounds on the doors of the three little pigs, bellowing and demanding to be let in. When the pig with the straw house and then the pig with the stick house refuse entry, he huffs and he puffs and he blows their houses down. Only when he is faced with the sturdiness of the brick house and the ingenuity of the third little pig is the wolf defeated, ending up in a boiling pot of water.

Students weigh evidence
Students weigh the evidence

Time after time the unexpected happens. Despite his place in the popular imagination as a predator and all-around bad guy, the wolf is found not guilty. Out of 187 votes cast this year so far, the wolf has been found not guilty by 152 individual school children and guilty by only 35.

How can this be? Perhaps the answer lies in the wolf’s (a.k.a. B.B. Wolf) version of the story. According to his testimony, he had a bad cold and a great desire to bake a cake for his grandmother. When he knocked on Fran Pig’s door to borrow some sugar, he sneezed and blew down her straw house. He ran to Stan Pig’s house to tell him about his sister’s house, but he sneezed again and blew down his stick house. He then ran to Dan Pig’s house to tell him about his brother and sister and to borrow some sugar when he sneezed again, but Dan Pig’s brick home withstood his ferocious “achoo!”

The jury foreperson delivers the verdict
The jury foreperson delivers the verdict

Some might say his story is a bit incredible, but the defense produces a receipt for cold medicine, and it is this receipt that jury members consistently cite when asked to explain their not guilty verdicts. They also cite what they perceive as a bias against B.B. Wolf. Relying on Fran Pig’s admission during cross-examination that not only did she not know B.B. Wolf but that she didn’t want to know him, the students detect good old-fashioned prejudice. “After all, he is a wolf,” she stated.

As any attorney volunteer who has participated in this event can tellyou, the children are concerned with “getting it right,” and acknowledge the difficult choice they face. When asked what he learned, one student responded, “I learned that whether you want a defendant to be guilty or not you need evidence to prove it.” When asked what it felt like to be on a jury, one student responded, “Being on a jury is hard because you have to hear both stories and…it is a hard choice.”

The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing
The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing

We can think of all sorts of reasons why the wolf won, but we can’t completely discount that the wolf is found not guilty because 2nd and 3rd graders do understand the importance of fairness, rational decision-making, and the awesome responsibility that comes with having the power to curtail another person’s liberty.

How should a citizen feel when she sits on a jury? Let’s hope she feels like the third grader who said, ““I feel brave and alive.”

For more information about State v. Wolf, contact Jessica Chethik at chethik@crfc.org.

Preview the program here!

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