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Goldilocks and the Three Bears

By Robert Southey, Classic Comic Store


A little girl named Goldilocks, goes for a walk in the forest and comes upon a house where she enters and finds to her delight three bowls of porridge. The first one she tastes is too hot, the next too cold but the third one just right so she eats it all up. Goldilocks finds the three different size chairs where she tries them out and finds the first one too hard, the next too soft, and then the little one just right but it breaks when she sits in it. As she wonders in the home she finds three beds and tries them out. The first bed is too hard, the next too soft but the third is just right and she curls up and falls asleep. Meanwhile the owners come home who happen to be three bears, Papa, Mama and little baby bear. Much to their surprise they discover the outcome of what Goldilocks has done to their porridge, chairs and finally their beds. Goldilocks wakes with a fright when she sees and hears the bears; she jumps from the bed and runs away as fast as she can.

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

By Joseph LaCoste and Mikala Smith

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is simply one of many modern interpretations of Robert Southey's original. As one of the most popular fairy tales in the English language it is often used as a bedtime story. Readers are often relieved often relieved to discover that Goldilocks makes a quick escape out of the window, running back into the forest, saving her from what could have otherwise been a devastating conclusion. The moral reasoning of the story is strung between self concern/preservation and transgressive social rule breaking.

Most of the students in the class have probably encountered the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears once prior or on several occasions. The facilitator of the philosophical discussion can hence, ask, who has never heard of this story before? The teacher can request that as Goldilocks and the Three Bears is being read that the students should be listening as if they are the bears themselves.

The theme in the story--how your actions might hurt others--is illustrated through the concept of trespassing (or possibly "breaking and entering"). When Goldilocks hears no answer after knocking on the door she precedes right inside where she continues to sample the bears' porridge, sitting in their chairs and finally falling asleep in the comfiest bed. Goldilocks has made herself right at home; apparently she does not consider whose house she is in and when they will be returning home. The first question set will guide the students in an explorative discussion on the definition of trespassing, through eliciting their own experiences.

The second philosophical discussion surrounds the issue of Goldilocks being motivated by selfishness. The common fable repetition of three involves Goldilocks trying three of everything until it is just right! Goldilocks’ actions foster her perfectionism; after all, you would think Goldilocks would be satisfied with the first sample, it is not even her belongings. Goldilocks carries a sense of entitlement to what does not belong to her. Modern terminology, "goldilocks planet" and "goldilocks economy", named after the fairytale girl, suggest this driving towards perfect satisfaction, equilibrium. The second question set addresses how the students determine what is "just right"!

After the conclusion of the story and philosophical discussion the teacher can follow up with optional activities. Such activities include the students pretending to be Goldilocks and writing an apology letter to the Three Bears or creative writing, involving the student as author of the story, writing from the perspective of the Three Bears. The third question set offers possible resolutions to Goldilocks and the Three Bears; therefore, aiding as tools in the follow up activities.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

In the story Goldilocks goes into the house and uses the things in the house without permission.

  1. Has anyone ever used anything that belonged to you without your permission? How did you feel? WHY did you feel this way?
  2. Who can give examples of cases when it is ok to use something that belongs to someone without their permission? What makes these situations different?
  3. What if everything was owned by one person. Would you need their permission t have a drink of water? Alternatively, what if everything was owned, but you didn't own anything?
  4. Why do we own things anyway? For any answer that is given, challenge students to find at least one example that challenges that answer.

The story abruptly concludes with Goldilocks running back into the forest.

  1. Why did Goldilocks run away?
  2. How do you think the bears felt that someone was in their house without their permission?
  3. How do the bears feel that Goldilocks ran away with no explanation or apology?
  4. What could be another way to end the story?
  5. Was Goldilocks sorry or was she just afraid? Can these ever be the same thing?

This book module deals with ethics. You can buy this book on Amazon.

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