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» right v. wrong Engaging Ideas

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Archive for the category “right v. wrong”

Why (and how) to teach ethics–in as early as 8th grade

Reprinted from Education Week: Teacher Leaders Network, Sept. 12, 2012

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/09/11/tln_johnprosser_ryanprosser.html?tkn=ZOXFB75Bo%2FMSOguonUKXyuwQQ7PEzy8UTHf5&cmp=ENL-TU-NEWS2

 

Courting Controversy: Why (and How) We Teach Ethics

By John Prosser and Ryan Prosser

 

 

We teach ethics to our 8th grade students—and we do it from the very start of the school year. A lot of our colleagues wince at that. Aren’t we nervous about teaching a subject usually reserved for parents? And whose ethics are we teaching, anyway? Here’s how we respond.

As the study of morality, ethics is not the teaching of a specific set of beliefs. Rather, ethics is about learning to analyze and evaluate beliefs. As long as you communicate that clearly—and practice it in your classroom—there’s no need to worry about “whose ethics you’re teaching.”

Middle school students engage in ethical decision-making daily. Listen closely to nearly any student’s social musings and you’ll hear a lot of talk about justice and injustice, about “right” and “wrong.” Students constantly evaluate their experiences in this way, critiquing the fairness of the dress code or debating whether iPods should be allowed in class. Why not harness this interest for an intentional unit? Read more…

Running red lights-can disobeying law be ethical?

image credit: New York Times Andre da Loba published Aug. 4, 2012

When it comes to the law we often want adolescents to think of it in strictly black and white terms, and certainly developmentally they may have challenges thinking of it in shades of gray, but this exercise is designed to do that.

Clearly in retrospect we know of laws that were unethical, such as bans on interracial marriage or laws requiring segregated schools.  In contemporary society, we now debate gay marriage, while many states, including Arizona, forbid it by law.

This essay by Randy Cohen in the New York Times explores ethics and the law. Not all illegal behavior is unethical, cites Cohen arguing his law breaking while cycling is ethical.

Likewise, not all legal behavior is ethical–citing the great damage that cars do to our environment.

This essay creates an interesting an entry point for a class discussion that could then turn into a written essay or lead as a segway to other discussions of ethics and the law and human behavior. Read more…

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