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Mmm, Cookies! introduces the concept of the social contract and explores other questions about punishment, guilt, and redemption.
Christopher is making cookies out of clay, and he gets his parents to eat them. When Christopher gives the cookie to his mom, she eats it and then runs to the washroom to wash out her mouth, so Christopher does it again with his dad. In the end of the book, Christopher’s teacher teaches him a lesson by giving him a fake cookie, and finally Christopher makes a real cookie to give to his parents.
Read aloud video by Ms. CeCe
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
This book deals with the concept of social contract theory. In the story, Christopher does something wrong because he thinks it is funny; but when the tables are turned and he is put into the same position, Christopher no longer finds it funny. The aspects of punishment are explored by comparing the teacher’s actions to Christopher’s actions. This presents an interesting question, as to why it seems okay for the teacher to do something, but wrong for Christopher to do it. In this module, we have used that contrast to explore the ideas of punishment and its necessity in a society. An alternative line of questioning also deals with who gets the role of punisher.
The remaining question sets were created to explore the ideas of guilt and redemption. The last two pictures in the book show Christopher taking a real cookie home to his parents. This raises the dual questions of “why” and “does this make up for his earlier behavior?” In one question set, guilt as an enforcer of the social contract was explored. In the other question set, the nature of redemption was explored.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
The Social Contract
- Why would Christopher be smiling, even though his mom isn’t enjoying the cookie?
- Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something mean to another person, even though you would have gotten something from being mean?
- What would happen if nobody agreed to be nice to each other?
- Why should we be nice to each other?
- Did Christopher find it funny when he was eating the fake cookie?
- Why would Christopher give his mom a fake cookie?
- Was it wrong for Christopher to give his parents fake cookies, why or why not?
- Why did the teacher give Christopher a fake cookie?
- Was it wrong for the teacher to give Christopher a fake cookie, why or why not?
- What would happen if Christopher didn’t learn his lesson?
- What does it mean to learn your lesson?
- Do you think everyone should have the power to teach lessons?
- Is there something special about the teacher that lets her teach lessons?
Guilt and Redemption
- Do you think Christopher felt bad about giving his parents fake cookies?
- Have you ever done something and then felt bad about it?
- Why did Christopher bring the cookie home to share with his parents?
- Do you think the fact that Christopher shared the cookie made up for his earlier tricks?
- Can you think of some examples where a person can’t make up for doing something wrong?
- What does it mean to make up for doing something bad?
- Do you think Christopher felt bad about giving people fake cookies at the beginning of the story?
- Do you think Christopher would have given a fake cookie to his dad if he was feeling guilty about doing it to his mom?
- Do you think Christopher felt guilty about his actions at the end of the story?
- Why might Christopher have felt bad at the end of the story but not at the beginning?
- Do you think you have to experience something to know it is bad, i.e. do you think Christopher needed to taste the fake cookie to know how bad it was?
- Do you think tasting the cookie helped Christopher feel bad about his actions?
- Do you think Christopher will give people fake cookies again, why or why not?
Original questions and guidelines for philosophical discussion archived here. Edited June 2020 by The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics.
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