Ethics refers to an individual’s principles that determine what is good in a given culture or situations They encompass the actions, choices and decisions that reflect and shape our values.
Exploring ethical issues requires us to think through the interplay of: actions with values, the interaction of actions with multiple (sometimes conflicting) values and the causes and consequence of actions on or by values.
For students to engage deeply with exploring ethical issues they need to be given tools to assist with the ‘digging’ and sorting process. Students, however, must be the ones to investigate and this can be achieved through open ended questions, which focus on: differing perspectives, positives and negatives, and cause and consequence.
The use of Thinking Hats (outlined in the activity below) is another strategy explore ethical issues through differing perspectives.
Activities to support the strategy
Activity 1: put your thinking hats on
This activity encourages students to explore issues from a variety of different perspectives and assists them to progress beyond their initial thoughts. To complete the entire activity can be time consuming so may be used over a sequence of lessons and broken down into smaller segments (see quick variation below).
- State the topic/issue to be explored.
- Introduce the 6 different thinking hats and emphasise that during this activity we are only allowed to think with one at a time. (see teacher resources for information on each hat).
- Starting with the blue hat, facilitate the discussion on what hats will be used and in what order (try to use all but some won’t always be suitable for the task).
- As a class, construct information for the topic with the first thinking hat. Guide students through this process through feedback and redirecting when tempted to move onto other hats.
- For e.g. That does seem like it could be a real problem, at the moment we are looking at White hat thinking, does it fit under this hat? When could we discuss that point a little further?
- In small groups students to investigate information for the specified hats.
ACELY1740: Interacting with others: Listen to spoken texts constructed for different purposes, for example to entertain and to persuade, and analyse how language features of these texts position listeners to respond in particular ways.
EN5-7D: Outcome 7: understands and evaluates the diverse ways texts can represent personal and public worlds (EN5-7D) - Respond to and compose texts: explore and analyse ethical positions on a current issue, including the values and/or principles involved, in digital communication forums
NSW literacy continuum
WRIC15M2: Aspects of writing, Cluster 15, Marker 2: Explores challenging ideas and ethical dilemmas.
- Six Thinking Hats: www.debonoforschools.com/asp/six_hats
- A SWOT analysis could also be used to engage and breakdown ethical issues: www.mindtools.com