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Ethical Fitness® for Tomorrow’s World

Grade level: K-16

Promising Approaches

  • Guided Discussions of Issues and Current Events
  • Service-Learning and Community Service

Overview

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

Evaluation Studies

Required Resources

Available Resources

Professional Development Opportunities

Snapshot of Practice in Action

Contact Information

Overview

The Ethical Fitness® approach can be found in schools across the United States and around the world.  This approach gives school leadership, classroom teachers and other educators – inside schools and in the larger school community – specific, developmentally appropriate tools for building students’ understanding about the need for ethical behavior in an increasingly complex world.  Serving children K – College, this approach is based on a conceptual framework for understanding and thinking through tough ethical dilemmas. 

Since the approach is concept-based, it is easily adapted to a number of different areas of learning, notably civics and citizenship.  In 1996, The Institute for Global Ethics received a three year research grant to combine the Ethical Fitness® conceptual framework with successful service learning approaches.  One outcome of the project is a curriculum tailored specifically to service learning.

The Ethical Fitness® approach involves three major concept areas:

1.        Ethical Awareness:  This stage helps students understand what ethics is, what it isn’t, and why it matters.  Older students explore “obedience to the unenforceable”, and consider the urgent need for ethics in a world in which our scale of systems and our technology mean decisions can have a truly global impact.

2.        Shared Values:  This stage helps students understand that while individuals can think differently about issues, they often believe in similar core ethical values.  Students explore the Institute for Global Ethics worldwide research on shared ethical values across cultures, ethnicities, age and gender.  Students experience a process for determining the values they share with others.

3.        Decision making:  This stage helps students apply specific tools for making tough decisions, and to appreciate the complexity of ethical decisions, and the ethical issues that may impact them, their community or their world.  While choices between right and wrong are examined, the main focus here is on the complex dilemmas in which two or more core values come into conflict.  Students practice specific strategies for analyzing and resolving ethical dilemmas, and are encouraged to bring real personal examples to the discussion.

Special Features

This framework has been taught successfully all over the world.  It provides a language and non-confrontational approach, especially for considering controversial issues that challenge exploration in a way that is balanced but maintains relevance and meaning.

Civic Learning Goals

Civic Knowledge

  • Key historical periods, episodes, themes, and experiences of individuals and groups

Civic Skills

  • Critical thinking, active listening, analyzing public policies, problems and assets, and understanding multiple perspectives
  • Communicating one’s position through writing or speaking
  • Planning and implementing civic action through managing, organizing and building consensus

Civic Dispositions

  • Developing tolerance, respect, and appreciation of difference
  • Developing concern with the rights and welfare of others
  • Developing a belief in one’s ability to make a difference
  • Developing attentiveness to civic matters and a desire to become involved in the civic life of the community

Evaluation Studies

Two evaluation studies are currently available regarding Ethical Fitness® as an instructional approach.  Please contact the Institute for Global Ethics:  and request the Executive Summaries of our research with inmate populations, and our research with high schools implementing service learning programs.

Required Resources

A classroom teacher or peer leader is required to lead groups. We provide stand-alone curriculum, but recommend the Ethical Fitness® Workshop.

Available Resources

Curricular materials for K – College are available at our website. www.globalethics.org

Professional Development Opportunities

One day Ethical Fitness® Workshops and two day Ethical Fitness® train-the-trainer programs are offered periodically at the Institute for Global Ethics. 

Snapshot of the Practice in Action

Excerpted from Centerpiece The Principals’ Center for the Garden State,Princeton,NJ:  www.princtr.org:

“Good decision-making under pressure is one of the hallmarks of leadership.  And as the leader of the school campus, the principal must make tough choices every day.  But if a principal is unsure how to resolve a particularly difficult situation, where do they turn?  To their gut instinct?  To the school handbook?  To the law? 

At Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville,NJ, Principal Donald Profit has instituted an ethical decision-making model to guide the tough choices made on campus.  The system, designed by the Institute for Global Ethics (IGE), provides a way to analyze ethical dilemmas…. Through workshops with the students, the schools chose a code of ethics – honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, and compassion.  On top of this foundation, Don uses [the Ethical Fitness®] framework … Don reiterates this system for ethical living in the school newsletter, when making announcements, and when speaking to the student body.  That way, students and staff understand what is expected of them and how disciplinary decisions are made.  .. “I talk step-by-step through the situation and work out what happened and what values are in conflict.  This model gives the campus a sense of fairness.  And it equips the students with a way to stop and think about their actions.”

Contact Information

Paula Mirk, VP Education
The Institute for Global Ethics
PO Box 563
11/13 Main Street
Camden, Maine 04843
207-236-6658;

800-729-2615

ethics@globalethics.org

www.globalethics.org

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy