A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world. – Albert Camus.
Ethics is a branch of moral philosophy. Among other things, it involves defending and recommending the concepts of right and wrong conduct. Ethics and morals are often associated with religion, but schools can also provide important lessons in ethical thinking and action.
Dr. Bruce Weinstein who has been tagged “The Ethics Guy” stated that there is a big fear out there that somehow teaching ethics in school will seep into students a particular religious viewpoint. However, he insists that ethics must be taught and should continue to be taught in school. It’s impossible not to teach ethics in a school.
Just last week I read this in a Whatsapp group that I belong to – the group comprises individuals who do not share rumors and are dedicated to reforming Nigeria through education:
Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), L.K.J. LCDA on Friday foiled an attempt by students of XYZ (senior) Secondary School, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Lagos to beat up their teachers.
LNSC also prevented the students from carrying out threats of destroying the school’s infrastructure during the last day of their examination.
Vice Principal of the school, Mr. ABC had on Thursday drawn the attention of LNSC to the students’ plan to celebrate “Ewa” day; a celebration in which students tried to mete out punishment to teachers whose subjects they are likely to fail.
The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) Chairman of the school, Mr DEF also told LNSC that the students had started making attempts to destroy fans and break ceilings of their classrooms since yesterday.
LNSC, however, stormed the school premises on Friday around 11am to prevent the students from carrying out their plans.
The students were marched out of the school premises in an orderly manner after the conclusion of their examination to make it impossible for them to carry out their threats.
Just last week this occurred…. (names withheld for privacy reasons)
I am still in shock over this and it led to me reflecting on whether schools teach ethics. I seriously doubt that they do and more than ever they ought to, as children today are looking up to the culture at large for ethical guidance, and unfortunately lots of adults are bad role models. From politicians, business people, bankers to musicians and athletes, who a lot of children look up to, they think to themselves: “If these people can get away with it, why shouldn’t I?”
I went back to read what are central standards of ethics that are common to all faiths, and according to The Ethics Guy there are five.:
● Do no harm;
● Improve life for everyone;
● Be courteous to others;
● Be unbiased;
● Be caring.
These should be shared as reminders in teaching children and young adults to behave ethically:
Do No Harm
Try not to hurt people. If hurting others is inevitable, for example, in breaking up with someone or firing someone, it’s important to minimise the hurt. Say just enough to make the point clear; don’t prolong the pain.
Improve Life for Everyone
It is vital to assist others — and to know the distinction between helping and hurting. If you see someone in distress, send some relief their way in whatever way you can. Say something kind. Make people feel good about themselves. Be a part of creating a society where people trust one another.
Be Courteous To Others
Courtesy is expressed by how we revere others by telling the truth, keeping our promises, and not listening to or spreading rumours. Don’t treat children with disrespect or disdain. Respecting one another and our differences is paramount to creating a fair and just society.
We should be unbiased on how we punish people. Our emotions shouldn’t determine how we mete out punishment. Fairness also has to do with how we distribute scarce resources. It is also a willingness to turn an unjust situation into a just one.
Caring for others is having compassion for them. Show people you care about them. A wonderful example I read was when The Ethics Guy, Weinstein recalled his 5th grade teacher telling his class that if they did drugs, he would haunt them for the rest of their lives. “When you look at those words on a page, it looks like a threat,” Weinstein said. “But this was his way of showing that he cared about us. And that’s one of the main reasons that I didn’t get involved in drugs.”
Weinstein recently rekindled his relationship with this 5th grade teacher. He flew to see him last year, and he thanked him personally for the influence he had on his life. “That may be going above and beyond the call of duty,” Weinstein pronounced.
Let’s focus on creating grounded, holistic children in our society.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.