Presentation on theme: "Teaching Ethics in K-12 Classrooms: Methodology and Pedagogy Richard A. Burgess, M.A. Texas Tech T-STEM Center and Deputy Director, National Institute."— Presentation transcript:
Teaching Ethics in K-12 Classrooms: Methodology and Pedagogy Richard A. Burgess, M.A. Texas Tech T-STEM Center and Deputy Director, National Institute for Engineering Ethics Summer 2012
Introduction Teaching ethics is deceptively complex. Ethics is the careful and rigorous examination of our beliefs about right/wrong and good/bad. The study of ethics helps us to see the complexity around us and provides tools to address that complexity.
Morality vs. Ethics Morality vs. ethics – “morality” is sometimes used to refer to the beliefs taught to us by family, religion, and society. This is distinct from “ethics” which is the systematic examination of these and other beliefs.
Description vs. Prescription People often mistake these when both discussing and teaching ethics. Description: describing what IS the case or what people DO believe.
Description vs. Prescription Prescription: discussing how things OUGHT to be or what we SHOULD do. Genuine ethics education requires that we move beyond description. Descriptive observations do not necessarily nullify the validity of prescriptions.
Origin vs. Expression One of the concerns teachers have about incorporating ethics into the classroom is the danger of stepping on parental territory regarding moral education. It is important to recognize that we can discuss ethical issues and principles without necessarily discussing their origins. The Golden Rule Example
Being Judgmental vs. Making a Judgment Because an important part of ethics involves critically examining the views of others, there is a worry that we will become judgmental in the process. “Being judgmental” is often the result of being shallow, myopic and arrogant. “Making a judgment” about an issue involves carefully considering all sides of an issue and coming to a well-reasoned conclusion about it.
The Dialectic or “Be Like Socrates…” Ethics education: emphasis on process vs. conclusion. Some of the best outcomes come from the thoughtful discussion of an issue or challenge. This discussion is sustained and improved through the use of critical, challenging questions. It is possible to challenge a student’s view without him/her feeling attacked in the process.
Inconsistencies It is common for students to contradict themselves when discussing ethics. They will sometimes be unaware of this. Contradictions are an opportunity for growth (improving reasoning). Thus, teachers should draw attention to these. Ask the students if they see any problem with the inconsistency and, if so, how they would address this.
The Value of Uncertainty Uncertainty can sometimes result from deep, philosophical discussions about ethics. Rather than be avoided, this should be embraced.
The Value of Uncertainty “The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious, common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected”. Bertrand Russell from The Problems of Philosophy (New York: OUP, 1969)