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Elementary Students at St. George’s Independent School Think Through Ethical Dilemmas

"See what the kids did with it!": a group of elementary students demonstrated how ethically capable even young children can be when they were unexpectedly called on to present and lead a discussion at an elementary school assembly.

May 21, 2012 - PRLog -- ROCKPORT, Maine – Last month, a group of elementary students at St. George’s Independent School (SGIS) located in the greater Memphis, TN area demonstrated how ethically capable even young children can be when they were unexpectedly called on to present and lead a discussion at an elementary school assembly.

Earlier in that same week, Jessica Abell and Carrie Carpenter, faculty members of the SGIS Ethical Literacy team, had presented these students with ethical dilemmas and asked them to be prepared to respond.

At Thursday’s assembly, the teacher in charge asked a couple of students to read dilemmas and their responses. They started with an example of right-versus-wrong (such as “Sneak Preview”) and then opened the assembly for discussion. Next, they presented a right-versus-right dilemma (see “Academic Temptation”) and discussion turned to the Institute for Global Ethics’ four dilemma paradigms to analyze the students’ examples:

•   truth-versus-loyalty,
•   justice-versus-mercy,
•   short-term-versus-long-term, and
•   individual-versus-community

Finally, the entire student assembly was provided a right-versus-right dilemma and asked to discuss it. Carpenter and Abell circulated to listen to the discussions and ask students which paradigm they felt the dilemma fit. Carpenter says, “It was great to see them process, discuss, and share. We felt it was a great assembly.”

At Friday’s assembly, the fifth teacher who was to lead the session was called away unexpectedly. Students in her class said they would handle the assembly. Carpenter explains, “After about five minutes, the students stood up and said, ‘We are going to present you with a dilemma through a skit.’.”  

Just as was modeled the day before, the students presented their dilemma and then led a discussion about which paradigms the dilemma would fall into. Carpenter recalls, “The discussion was wonderful and we had several kids who offered their thoughts. We were so excited to see what the kids did with it!”
Paula Mirk, Director of Education at the Institute says, “This is the kind of thing we have always hoped would happen through the Ethical Literacy process.  These students are clearly equipped to think through the tough ethical dilemmas they’ll encounter in life, and we’ll all be better off as a result.”

The IGE’s Ethical Literacy Learning Community provides school community members with tools and processes to build and maintain a culture of integrity based on shared values, ethical decision-making, and research about balancing attention to academic rigor with attention to the ethical development of young people. For more information, please visit http://www.ethical-literacy.org or call +1-207-542-1546.

About the IGE
Founded in 1990, with offices in Rockport, Maine and New York City, the Institute for Global Ethics (http://www.globalethics.org) is an independent, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethical action in a global context. IGE’s challenge is to explore the global common ground of values, elevate awareness of ethics, provide practical tools for making ethical decisions, and encourage practical action based on those decisions.

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Source:Institute for Global Ethics
Location:Rockport - Maine - United States
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