The Emperor’s Club
Q1. Do you think Professor William Hundert did the right thing? What are the ethical and moral dilemmas would he have experienced? Did his choice help or hinder Sedgewick? A. I believe Professor William Hundert did not do the right thing. Selecting Sedgewick Bell over Martin Blythe, not on the bases of merit, was not only unfair to Blythe but can also be perceived as favouritism. It is true that he wished to see Sedgewick Bell succeed and wished to motivate him to work harder. However, the means to that end were wrong. Motivating a person is very important. It helps increase confidence and builds up self-esteem. Professor Hundert did his very best to encourage Sedgewick to apply himself more in class and at the school. He was quite successful as well. However, just when it seemed he had finally realised his potential and was on track to make to the final of the Julius Caesar competition, it turned out that he would lose out to Martin Blythe by 1 mark. Professor Hundert thought that this would de-motivate him and further hamper his development. In order to keep him focused towards his goal, Professor Hundert decided to grade him higher than what he deserved. He thought about what would happen if he didn’t select Sedgewick Bell. He, however, did not think of the repercussions of his actions on selecting Sedgewick. The implications of his actions on Martin Blythe were not perceived by him at all. The ethical dilemmas are quite clear. Was selecting Sedgewick Bell over Martin Blythe, by changing his grade, the right thing? Did he deserve to be in the final? Selection by any other way other than merit, was it acceptable? When realising that Sedgewick was cheating, expose his lie or adhere to the headmaster and keep mum about it? The moral areas are a little bit more than black and white. What would be the effect on Sedgewick if he wasn’t selected? Given his relation with his father, would he be able to recover after that? Would he give up trying all together post failure? And what about himself? Was he doing the right thing by keeping quiet about the cheating just because Sedgewick’s father was the Senator? And had he failed as a professor, a mentor? Professor William Hundert believed his decision would help Sedgewick Bell, to grow, build up his esteem and most importantly, help him have belief in himself. On the contrary, as we could see, it did not aid him in any way. By increasing Sedgewick’s grade, though with the view of motivating him, was unfair as he did not deserve it. During the competition, on realising that Sedgewick was cheating, Professor Hundert, on instructions from the headmaster, kept quiet about it. This was his second mistake. This was the second time Sedgewick was given a free pass without any repercussions. This led him to believe that he could get through life, doing what he wanted, in any manner desirable without facing the consequences for his actions. He had no respects for rules, regulations or authority. He continued that throughout his life with absolute disregard to principles. And this holds true, as we see, that even after 25 years, he cheats in the competition. After being caught, he doesn’t have even the slightest concern about exposure or, for that matter, any remorse.
Q2. What would you do as a teacher? What would you do as a student? A. Contrary to what Sedgewick Bell’s father mentioned in the movie, I believe it is the job of the teacher to mould the student and create structure in their life. Coming to St. Benedict School for Boys, which is an organisation of sorts, Sedgewick was an outsider. Professor William Hundert did his very best to welcome him into the organisation. After considerable effort and time, Sedgewick was motivated to work hard towards his education. As a teacher, everything Professor Hundert did till then was absolutely correct, not unlike what I would have done. In my opinion, motivating students to apply themselves,...
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