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Winnipeg students to compete in U.S. ethics bowl

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An international scholastic competition in which the winner is best able to collaborate and compromise to do what's right, instead of tearing someone else apart intellectually?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/04/2015 (2859 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An international scholastic competition in which the winner is best able to collaborate and compromise to do what’s right, instead of tearing someone else apart intellectually?

Yes, seriously.

And six students from River East Collegiate are really good at doing what’s right — to the point of being able to say, yes, what the other people are saying really does make more sense.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS River East Collegiate students (from left in foreground) Quiana Kumar and Jayda Hope, (back row from left) James Pither, Kartik Sachar, Emmanuel Cardozo, Kaela Rampersad and teacher Anita Kumar are heading to the United States to compete in an ethics bowl.

They’ll be heading Tuesday to the National (U.S.) High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina, the first Canadians to participate with 23 American high schools, said language arts and history teacher Anita Kumar.

In ethics, it’s win-win, said Kumar.

“It’s an exercise in teaching students to think and problem-solve while able to give up their position — my answer is not always going to be the right answer,” Kumar said.

Two teams sitting closely together receive a real-life case study; one side presents the background, the ethical dilemmas involved and the possible solutions. The other side responds, and back and forth they go.

How well they present and reason — every member must speak — and how they answer the adjudicator’s questions, determines which team wins.

The students are learning to look at the issue from other people’s perspective, said student Jayda Hope. When River East took part in a division-wide pilot project ethics bowl in December, one case involved the policy of the U.S. army that requires all soldiers, including African-American women, to shave their hair ultra-short.

Hope feels strongly about the issue, but an ethics environment requires her to listen and consider.

One student from another school responded to Hope’s arguments for respecting culture by telling her if she wouldn’t shave her head for him, he couldn’t be expected to trust her as a comrade in arms.

“I couldn’t tell the guy he was stupid,” said Hope.

” ‘It is a stupid point’ — we can’t say that,” student James Pither said. “In debate, you try to undermine the opponent,” but in ethics, everyone works together to find what’s right.

“You have to defend or change your ideas,” student Kartik Sachar said. One difficult case, he said, was about a student who copied another student’s test paper because she figured the teacher had just assigned the test to fill empty time.

“It’s not dealing with wrong versus right,” said Hither. “It’s two moralities colliding.”

Kumar said a member of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, who works for River East Transcona School Division, heard about the Ethics Bowl. With encouragement from the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, the division’s high schools piloted the concept this winter.

You can get full details about the Ethics Bowl — if you conclude it would be the ethical thing to do — at http://nhseb.unc.edu.

The case studies to be examined and discussed at UNC next month will all be American, or written from an American perspective, student Emmanuel Cardoza acknowledged. “It’s an American competition,” he conceded.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 9:18 AM CDT: Replaces photo, changes headline

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