A Piece Of Paper

“A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up but to not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was.

She then told them to tell it that they’re sorry and to try to fix the paper. When the kids thought they were done, she pointed out all the scars they’ve left behind. Those scars would never go away, no matter how hard they would try to fix it. It’s the same with bullying. Even though you might say that you are sorry, you might not be able to fix all the scars you’ve caused. Some of them might stay forever.”

The story I just shared with you has been around for a while now. I’ve heard it in different circumstances over and over again. The first time, I think, was about 10 years ago and it was simply about the word “sorry”. I remember that someone recommended it to me as a tool to teach kids about using the word “sorry” but continuing doing what they were doing.

In order to make them realize what their action and saying sorry were all about you gave the kids a piece of paper. Then they had to fold it and then unfold it and trying to make it look as perfect as possible again (to symbolize the action and then the apology). You then had them do it over and over again, each time folding the paper differently. In the end the marks on the paper were clearly there and there were a lot of them. The lesson for the kids would have been down the line of “it doesn’t really matter how often you say sorry. If you continue doing what you did and then simply apologize for the damage will eventually be too much.”

I like the use of that piece of paper to make kids aware of the fact, that their actions will not simply disappear. That they leave marks. I also love it when teachers or parents teach the kids that kind actions can lead to something amazing. Like making the kids plant something and then nurture and water it and watch it grow. By doing both we leave a strong message behind. A message and hopefully an understanding of how important our actions are. It’s important to realize that if we do something good, something great can grow out of it. If we continuously do something that hurts others the consequences might be around for a lifetime.

If we then manage to make our kids understand which of the two will be more rewarding we probably planted a very important seed for the future.

32 thoughts on “A Piece Of Paper

  1. Reblogged this on Just Plain Ol' Vic and commented:
    I had never heard of this analogy before but it makes so much sense, please take the time to read this post.

    Bullying, like mental illness, can leave scars that are unseen but yet affect that individual for a life time. Most families have experience bullying in some form, so only though education can we bring awareness.

    Below are links to my families experience with bullying:



    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard this one with a broken plate as the example. It’s never too early or to late to stop bullying and hurting people. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I’ve heard about the broken plate as well but for some reason the paper makes more sense to me as most of the time the aim in the beginning might not be to break someone but just “tease”. But the teasing leaves marks as well and if done too often might rip people apart too…


  3. What a great lesson and amazing way to teach it. I think I may have to try it with my middle school students 😄 thanks for the post !

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is the option of using a plate which they can break and then try to fix again. I like the paper a lot as I think for many the aim is not breaking someone in the first place. If you use a plate it kind of goes there. Most of the kids tease first and it becomes more and more. And the paper shows this, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This exercise was new to me. Seems like it would be pretty effective, especially for children.
    There is a saying that actions speak louder than words. At first I thought it could not apply to “fixing” the unseen internal and emotional damage caused by bullying and shown graphically by the wrinkled paper. It of course fit your suggestions for planting, growing and nurturing. Then it occurred to me that maybe the wrinkles could be ironed out of the paper which might show how actions can speak louder than words in repairing damage done by bullies. No idea if this could or even should be added to the paper wrinkling exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s