I am commenting on this event from the lens of a prospective Ethics educator, being as objective as possible:
A local class of 14-year-olds were asked a very common ethical question during an Ethics lesson. Like other questions asked in the Ethics class, the intention of such questions is not to elicit yes’s or no’s from the students, but to critically examine the scenario being probed and to suffice a response based on moral and critical thinking.
This simple yet very intuitive exercise helps the student to start (a) forming an informed opinion, (b) critically assessing alternatives and outcomes, and (c) making a decision based on reason instead of impulse – which are part and parcel of what critical thinking is essentially about.
By negating these types of exercises or trying to refrain from societal matters, we are not only crushing a critical opportunity for the students to cultivate but also accepting the reality of only being opinionated (albeit whichever source that opinion is coming from), on what feels ‘safe’ to do so, instead of trying to broaden one’s perspective on the different moral dilemmas and issues.
Now, I know that some of the concerned parents were triggered by the ‘killing a dictator as a baby’ part, instead of the actual activity; but please bear with my response here:
What can a moral dilemma (with the intent to form critical pathways in the students’ minds) contribute towards the actual act of killing? Will this be conducive towards more infanticides by 14-year-olds? Or will this promote the student to think outside of the box, and start exploring what such utilitarian actions can produce and why?
Some parents remarked that the teacher should leave “killings and violence” aside when teaching ethics…
Irrespective of the fact that this exercise had nothing to do with actually murdering a baby, why should you leave ‘killings and violence’ aside in a world where killings and violence are on the news every single day? Has one simply forgotten the recent atrocities? The murders, rape, violence, and bullying of a 12-year-old? Should they be censored to 14-year-olds, so they won’t know what’s happening (at least up until they switch on their phones)?
The moral lesson of the story (pun intended) is to start opening our eyes to the critical measures that are needed in a critically-limited culture – and not inhibiting it to your child would be a start.
Here’s a recent article I’ve written on what Ethics Education is all about.
I am also interested in reading your remarks.