#12 An Ethical Island: Week 3- Utilitarian Ethics (Night class)

The Night class has taken on a mind of its own.

Group Dynamics:

Cyber Island implored me to wait on their 4th member to show up before they began the group challenge. I reassured them that I would add up the Ethical Island Award points and then we would start an Island Survival Adventure. The Top Chefs had not arrived. The 3 Guys Island were all ready to go. The MA’s were missing an islander. It was 5 minutes to 6pm (the beginning of class). Smiley Island all appeared quickly and were ready for the Survival Challenge. Soon after 6pm the final member of Cyber Island appeared with dinner for the entire island (they are bonding so well, but are they learning).

The MA’s had 2 inhabitants so they decided to recruit the sole Top Chef’s island inhabitant to their group. T gladly moved over to join the MA’s. I needed him to make the decision of whether he was officially abandoning his island and whether the MA’s would have him. They agreed to have him and he agreed to stay.

The Island Survival Adventure:

The purpose of this fun activity was to address group dynamics and determine whether the students scored better when working as a group verses on their own. 2 groups Synergized while 2 did not. I asked the students to determine why they worked better or worse as a team. I presume it is the “Leader complex.” Many students think the loudest voice is the smartest person and therefore this person should be the “leader.” Many times quiet people have good and often critical reasoning to add. Hopefully this added insight so they could begin the night’s task of learning about Consequentialists.

The Class Agenda

I often over prepare. I learned, through my time in the courtroom, that I need to be prepared for many directions, but willing to change when the class needs change (or the Judge when I am in court). I had a plan and here it is:

  1. Island Survival Adventure (individual ranking and then group, then discussion)
  2. Addressing group dynamics and addressing not receiving homework (2 groups had members do homework but forget to submit it)
  3. Have each group Diagram on large paper everything they knew about Utilitarianism
  4. Group share on their ideas
  5. Short (very short) Lecture on Utilitarianism
  6. Introduce the Challenge
  7. Introduce resources for the Challenge

8.Use Clickers to evaluate the student’s ending knowledge of applying utilitarian ethics. (they performed well)

The Challenge was to judged by a Gallery Preview. What I mean by this was islands were to post their arguments on the wall (on giant paper) and each person was to vote (by sticky note) for the poster they liked best. The criteria which poster demonstrates the best Utilitarian argument. 2 teams tied.

Ethical Island Award this week went to The MA’s and Cyber Island.

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#11 An Ethical Island: Week 3- Utilitarian Ethics (morning class)

This week we studied Utilitarian Ethics ( HIstory found at the Link). Basically, a Utilitarian wants the greatest utility for the greatest amount of people. This is such a basic definition that it does not do justice to the true Utilitarian. The Consequentialist determines their ethical decisions based on the consequences of a given action. An example is the organ donor dying in the hospital. Should we turn off the machine, harvest the organs, and save many lives? Or should we keep him on life support and only (possibly) save him? A consequetionist will say, “Harvest the organs. The greatest utility (aka good) for the greatest amount of people will be met.”

Morning Class:

I went in fully prepared to teach the class a certain way and then (while staring off into the floor) said, “You know what? We are going to change it up a bit today.” All the students who were present looked at me a little quizzically and then waited for this grand idea they thought I had. I was facing 2 problems in my morning class.

Problem # 1

  • The Ma’ Island had done well as a group week 1, but week 2 two additional new students were added to the group. These two new people drowned out the voices of the “original” Ma Island inhabitants. A new student arrived wh seemed quiet so I added her to this group. So, three quieter students could work out the problems better than a group with too strong of a voice.

Problem #2

  • The Culinary Island was made up of 4 people, 2 quiet, and 2 “leaders.” Week 2 the additional leader joined the group. What I saw week 2 was that the two leaders would get sidetracked arguing who would “lead” and not digging deep into the material. I addressed this issue week 3 by suggesting the group dynamics needed to change and that I needed one leader to start a new island. She was against this idea and said she had been called “overbearing” in the past. I reiterated that she was a leader and that sometimes a group cannot function with 2 leaders because the others get left out. The group wanted to remain together and asked to remain 1 united island. I allowed it- especially since 2 students from the other group never materialized this week and there would have been no one else in this new island.

The morning class progressed and I think they understood the basics of Utilitarian ethics by the end.

 

Khan Academy

I have been in search of more information on Flipping the Classroom. The idea of flipping is that you get all the content out of the classroom and challenge the students to do everything they would have done (lectures, read, videos) in the classroom to do it at home on their own. The end result is that you do projects, solve problems, and get more one on one learning in the classroom. It is not a new idea, but one that can revolutionize my department. Khan Academy is based on this theory. Khan Academy has tons of videos and such that encourages learning at home.

I tried some physics videos on my own children. After they did their math homework for the day, we applied it. Before we could apply it, we had to learn about how long that darn runway needed to be to land a plane safely. This in turn needed physics learning first. So, a few of the kids learned this on Khan Academy. The best thing about kids is that they are interested in learning. The worst part about kids learning is that they get bored easily. That is… unless electronics and hands on activities (that matter) are involved.

Even though the kids are not of age to land a plane like their uncles, they at least know how mathematically. Thank you, Khan Academy.