Anyone Can Be An Ethicist. Everyone should ask about their principles and values so that everyone can know what they stand for and know what a good life means to them.
The core requirement to be an ethicist is to think deeply about what is right and wrong. In doing so, anyone can be an everyday ethicist. When one lives ethically they consider the issues of doing the right thing from one day to the next to cultivate good in their lives.
Ethics in School. Across all the standards of education, students are generally not taught to be ethical or to behave in a standardized ethical way. Yet, we prepare for adulthood throughout school and in doing so we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us.
Students Discussing Ethics. Children often raise issues of ethics and teachers often side-step these issues. Teachers can choose to engage in these issues or ignore them. This might be a result of the personal definition of ethics from one person to the next. Each person determines what is right and wrong. Though, there are many things that are understood to be right and wrong for nearly every person.
It is important to educate students to respect the multitude of ethical beliefs and stand up for personal ethical convictions. If we are doing our work well, students are already working with questions of ethics. Students already have an opinion about right and wrong and fairness.
Students can often be imaginatively present with a story and a thought experiment in ethics. Teachers can consider the ethical concerns in life and build this into the daily education of students.
Areas of Resonance. Topics such as equity, cultural differences, a multitude of belief structures and perspectives that inform ethical understandings are possible mine-fields for a teacher. But, this does not mean that a teacher should side-step these issues.
It is possible that parents might argue that questions of ethics should be answered by families and that schools should stick to the standards prescribed. However, one strength of education is that everyone in the classroom gets the opportunity to work with people from many different backgrounds. In doing so, one must investigate what they know to be true and try to understand people from other perspectives and backgrounds.
I think that there is a way to both respect the perspectives of each person and family while also helping students to understand and consider the ethical questions that they face.
As an administrator, I have and plan to continue to use these strategies. Asking questions to provoke understanding and engage with possibly difficult answers is a way to respect the personal experience and help students share their perspectives with others.