Preparing for Ethical Challenges

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Preparing For Ethical Challenges
A survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics polled more than 20,000 middle and high school students about moral standards. Almost half of these students reported stealing something from a store in the previous 12 months. In the same period, seven out of 10 cheated on an exam. There is more and more evidence of antisocial behavior than ever among our youth. Even our most academically talented students tend to let personal interest triumph over the common good. (Johnson, 1999)

Where have we gone wrong? In the early 19th century ethics was as much a part of the curriculum as mathematics. Children were taught from readers that were filled with stories of honesty, self-reliance, and courage. The author of these books, William H. McGuffey, was even a professor of moral philosophy. But early in the 20th century a shift began to happen. Schools lost their comfort with these teachings and began to move this education towards family and religious institutions. By the late 1970’s, teaching ethics had all but disappeared from American public schools. (Johnson, 1999) Now, in the 21st century, it has become glaringly apparent that families and religious institutions need help. Schools have, once again, become necessary partners with parents in the race for a balancing influence against peers and mass media.

I firmly believe that our institutions of higher learning, Anderson University in particular, have an extremely important role to play in preparing its students to face ethical challenges. It can no longer be assumed that just because a student has gone through the lower levels of education they are prepared to face the difficult challenges that life will throw their way. Students must be taught to handle difficult situations that make them angry; when peers pressure them; when personal or academic honesty works against their own self interest; or when they are involved in patterns of self-destructive,...
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