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Opinionated Octogenarian, #4 Ethics

November 11, 2014

Twenty+ years ago I taught in a public high school. I had enjoyed teaching for 34 years in different districts across the country, and I don’t need to tell you that society and the educational system have changed in those years.
An article in the OC Register by a staff writer reports that Corona Del Mar High has hired an ethics consultant to restore that school’s damaged reputation. The high school has a group of entrepreneurial students who managed to change grades and get answers to exams by hacking into the school’s computers. Kevin O’Grady, an executive director of a Santa Ana based advocacy group for homosexual, bi-sexual and transgender youth, will be paid $5,000 to meet with students and staff. Is there an ethics advocacy group better suited to solve the problem that needs correcting? How does an ethics advocate instill ethics?
Ethics is the philosophy of human conduct, with emphasis on right and wrong, an examination of morals. The study of ethics and morals was taught to a child first learning to read if not before. The 1777 edition of The New England Primer began with the statement, “A – In Adam’s fall we sinned all.” The next lesson was “B – Thy life to mend this book attend.” We could go on with the alphabet, but we might learn more about Christianity than we need to know in this, the 21st Century. C is the Christ word, and I think D must be the devil, and there-in lies the conflict.
The study of human conduct was never mentioned in any curricula I encountered while teaching English, history, reading, and special education from 1956 to 1992 in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California public schools.
But in those olden days, teachers were required to read from the Bible before a short, quiet, prayer time. I loved reading from the Old Testament, especially from the Psalms and Proverbs. David’s poetry is soothing to restless souls and Solomon’s wisdom is awesome to unformed minds. The parables of Jesus are perspicacious. My favorite was the parable of the talents. I enjoyed a quiet moment in a “homeroom”, and the kids got a dose of the 10 commandments. Horrors!
We didn’t have or seem to need ethics consultants. Theodore Roosevelt is reported to have said, “To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society.” Read that again.
The prophet Micah tells us what is good and what God and our own lives require; and that is simply, “do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6: 8) How can that not be politically correct?
(to be contd.)


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