Here is a story from our friend Brian C, who now lives in Denver, Colorado. He’s now an official “Small Infinity”, and you can be too. Small Infinity stories are everywhere- help us collect them!

Every spring for the last 3 years, I’ve been lucky enough to find time during my job as a finance professional to skip out and teach economics to 4th graders at my old elementary school. The teaching is facilitated through a national not for profit organization, called Junior Achievement. This year’s class was easily the hardest to connect with over the 3 years.

At the end of a recent lesson, I had the kids break up into groups and tasked them to come to a group decision regarding a hypothetical business problem. As time was winding down, I asked each group to elect a speaker to read their problem, share their decision, and talk a bit about their decision making process. I was delighted when the last group actually chose one of the quieter girls in class to be their speaker. Their problem had two choices and one choice was that they could do something illegal with a very low probability of getting caught, but the illegal activity would net them a substantially higher profit. Apparently, this group unanimously chose the less profitable yet completely legal approach. Perfect! This group of four 4th graders with different education levels and different cultural backgrounds were unified in their desire to behave honestly.

I then asked for a show of hands how many of the kids would knowingly break the law, with a low chance of being caught, but would be ensured a large monetary gain . . . I thought I was going to cry when not one hand was raised. In this one small microcosm of low-income, public school system educated, 11-12 year olds; they all shared a common desire to perform honestly over dishonesty and profit.

The psychological, political, educational, etc. implications of this one little exercise may not be profound, but it is moments like this that recharge hope. As I think about how to title this for the Small Infinity blog, my designation of A, B, C is admittedly a guess. “A” could be the quiet girl, “B” her team (or vice versa), and then, through social norms, “C” the class. The only thing I know for sure is that “D” was me.