Rights: The University of Waikato Published 20 November 2007 Download

Bioethics expert Michael Reiss believes that ethical discussions work well in the classroom, as long as certain guidelines are followed.


Michael Reiss: If one is a school teacher and is trying to introduce ethics, I think it will work really, really well - and there are probably two extremes to avoid. One extreme is having a very fixed view to where you want the class to end up, having just one outcome. The other extreme is thinking, This is all very airy-fairy, wishy-washy, it doesn’t really matter what gets discussed as long as everybody joins in.

Ethics is not like that. It has got a logic to itself, so as a teacher one would want young people to be defending their reasoning. And one might simply do that by repeatedly asking them, Why do you say that? What do you mean? How do you know?

Most of the other skills required are those that a teacher uses when handling any sort of class discussions: You want to get a range of viewpoints, you don’t want to allow one or two to hog the discussion, you're sensitive to the fact that it's possible occasionally that some people might be feeling … traumatised is too much of a statement … but might be feeling either anxious or troubled, and want to try and make sure that is not the case.