Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ethics Bowl: Civil Civic Discourse

A rookie team of Upper School students competed impressively in the regional Ethics Bowl, advancing to the quarterfinals of the competition among students from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The National High School Ethics Bowl NHSEB competition focuses on 16 case studies, released in September, which the students can research and consider. However, they are not permitted to have any notes during the actual competition and they don’t know in advance which case will come into play in any particular round. As examples, one of the case studies dealt with virtual and augmented reality and another dealt with white privilege.  

The students gathered at Villanova University on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Penn Charter went 2-1 in the morning competition, losing to Radnor but victorious over Wilmington Friends and Camden Catholic High School. Those two wins put PC in the quarterfinals, and Penn Charter finished seventh overall of 18 teams. A great job for the first time out! 

Upper School social studies teacher Ed Marks is the faculty advisor and coach of the team, and he also was a first-timer at the Ethics Bowl. “We were the only rookie team,” Marks said. “I felt a bit like the blind leading the blind. Fortunately, the Penn Charter kids took ownership of the day and totally distinguished themselves.”

The (NHSEB) promotes respectful, supportive, and rigorous discussion of ethics among high school students nationwide. “It was gratifying to see high school students engage in civil discourse around ethical dilemmas,” Marks said. “There’s hope for the future!"

Advancing critical thinking skills, one of the goals of our Strategic Vision, is at the heart of this new activity. The Ethics Bowl competition enhances learning and leadership opportunities for Penn Charter students and also syncs with Goal 1 of our Strategic Vision, which calls on us to "model and teach integrity, truth-telling, conflict resolution and ethical choices.”

Marks said it also advances excellence in teaching, Goal 3 of that Strategic Vision. "I do consider myself a life-long learner and this activity helped me to scratch that itch and also collaborate with students."