Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Plan for Improving Our Ethics

Per the previous post, I am deeply concerned that poor ethics is devastating society. That post briefly described a possible solution. I flesh that out here.

To effect such a fundamental change in people's values I believe requires a program that starts nearly at birth and continues well into adulthood:

-- Parenting education (as part of LaMaze and other pre-birth parenting education--e.g,. in the post-birth hospital room), including stressing the primacy of teaching your child that ethics must trump expediency.

-- Pre-K-through-graduate school. Every year or two, students create (for example, as a term paper) a model ethics training program for slightly younger students. Such an approach immerses the students in the process, unlike in a lecture should generate minimum defensiveness, and provides an ongoing source of improved ethics courses.

There would be only three rules for that course development:
-- Its goal must be to change the fabric of a student's thinking process so s/he will almost reflexively choose ethics over expediency.
-- It must be critical-incident based, e.g., for elementary school students: bullying, for high school students: cheating, for business-school students: withholding negative information to sell a product.
-- It must put students in the shoes of the victim of ethical malfeasance. For example, when, to make more money, a surgeon recommends surgery when drug treatment would do, imagine how the patient feels on hearing he "needs," how his family feels, how he feels when he's checking into the hospital, wheeled into surgery, etc.

Optional component: A contest for the best ethics courses. Every year, there would be winners--a la the National Science Fair or Spelling Bee.

-- To extend the ethics "curriculum" beyond the school years, producers of public-service announcement, TV dramas and sitcoms, movies and video games would be encouraged to create story lines that present thorny ethical dilemmas: for example, where expediency would yield great benefit and the ethical violation to derive that benefit is not great.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting related article about ethics in a college class in FL:


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