I had the distinct honor to attend the first Washington D.C. High School Ethics Bowl at American University.
There were eight teams competing from local schools in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas.
My daughter’s team won 2nd place!
(Note: the trophys were identical except for the engraving of first, second, and third places.)
I was so proud to see that the schools are educating our students in ethics–both the theory and the practice.
The student teams prepared and competed using 10 case study scenarios that covered everything from oil drilling in Alaska to the death penalty.
In lieu of the education of yesteryear that relied all too heavily on rote memorization, it was awesome instead to see the students analyzing real life scenarios, using critical thinking, debating ethical and philosophical considerations, and making policy recommendations.
The students were sensitive to and discussed the impact of things like income inequality on college admission testing, the environmental effects of offshore drilling versus the importance of energy independence, the influence of race of criminal sentencing, and the moral implications of the Red Cross teaching first aid to named terrorist groups like the Taliban.
I was truly impressed at how these high school students worked together as a team, developed their positions, and presented them to the moderator, judges and audience–and they did it in a way that could inspire how we all discuss, vet, and decide on issues in our organizations today.
– They didn’t yell (except a few that were truly passionate about their positions and raised their voices in the moment), instead they maturely and professionally discussed the issues.
– They didn’t get personal with each other–no insults, put-downs, digs, or other swipes (with the exception of when one team member called his opponents in a good natured gest, “the rivals”), instead they leveraged the diversity of their members to strengthen their evaluation of the issues.
– They didn’t push an agenda in a winner takes all approach–instead they evaluated the positions of the competing teams, acknowledged good points, and refined their own positions accordingly to come up with even better proposals.
– They didn’t walk away from the debate bitter–but instead not only shook hands with their opponents, but I actually heard them exchange appreciation of how good each other did and what they respected about each other.
I’ll tell you, these kids–young adults–taught me something about ethics, teamwork, critical thinking, presentation, and debate, and I truly valued it and actually am enthusiastic about this next generation coming up behind us to take the reins.
With the many challenges facing us, we need these smart and committed kids to carry the flag forward–from what I saw today, there is indeed hope with our children. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)