Letter: Introducing Ethics and Philosophy to Today's Students

By Emile Durfey-Lavoie


The following letter was submitted by Emile, a Chariho High School student, who feels this type of curriculum would benefit all high school students:

Hello, whomever this message so concerns.

I was wondering if anyone would be interested in creating an ethics/philosophy class for local high schools.

Besides my interest in such things I believe it would be highly beneficial to the student body as a whole. Not just to the student body either, the community and, possibly, the country as well. As the students take an ethics class they may potentially be impacted in some way or another. That impact the class caused could then travel with them out of high school and either into the workforce or some college.

As the students go to college, wherever that may be, they may take what they found from the ethics class and change something in their new community for the better thereby helping society. Even if the students who took the class did not improve their community in some way, they may be personally impacted by such a class and try to help someone/something.

Most American teens do not know anything about ethics besides what their environment teaches them and their environment may not be the most accepting of places. American teenagers today are not very responsible, more so anyway than a teenager in say Denmark, and would do well to take a class on the "moral principles governing a person or group of persons" (iPad definition of the word ethics). They would be able to see what the world thinks, not just a rural, patriotic, American, community.

"Companies are looking for people who know how to treat their boss and also, if the employee is in a situation of authority, there are certain ethics needed for that situation as well...The whole idea of submitting two weeks notice before leaving a job has become lost in many parts of the world because people were not taught ethics and this will affect them later on. This is another very important reason to teach ethics in high school." - Arold, The importance of having an ethics class in high school.

Edgar Arold is of no vast importance to the world of academia and is hardly worth mentioning but what he is a 33-year-old missionary to Thailand. A missionary, whether amicably greeted or not, has good intentions, to give a set of ethics to a group of people. On that note, any ethics class should be secular in nature as there are too many religions which promote their own ethics and it would be virtually impossible to determine which religion's ethics should be taught. That way, the ethics being taught to students would be purely academic with no religious interference.

On the philosophy part, students would benefit to learn various philosophies to both broaden their view of the world, and to possibly develop new ways of thinking. As a personal example, from the Chariho High School library I checked out a book on philosophy that had not been checked out in over ten years! If you were to check how many books on the subject matter of either philosophy or ethics were last checked out, and the number of people who have recently done so, that number I can assure you would be low and the dates far past.

Philosophy is, as defined by "A.C. Grayling, Philosophy 1: A Guide through the Subject (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 1: '"The aim of philosophical inquiry is to gain insight into questions about knowledge, truth, reason, reality, meaning, mind, and value."' ".Sound philosophical arguments are based on logic and rational argument so not only would a philosophy class (or a philosophy/ethics class which would also give them ethics) give students different ways to look at the world, it would also teach them how to have a rational argument and use logic in such an argument giving them more credibility.

By writing this I do not intend for some type of acknowledgement, and hope none is given, or in anyway gain something by doing this except to give the children in this community a class which could help expand their way of thought and broaden their interests. I have a young baby brother (hardly over a year), and I would not like him to grow up with the help of a school system that does not teach him basic aspects of intelligent discussion. As I am sixteen, almost seventeen, I will most likely not be a major part of his life and would like to see such a class be constructed which could benefit both him and his community - no matter how marginal that effect may be.

Emile Lavoie Jr January 15, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Great letter
NovaPwr January 16, 2013 at 12:31 AM


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