by Timo Off
A few weeks ago I met Steve at a function in Kiel and that evening we talked about the Storyline approach of course. In my philosophy lessons with students in 7th and 11th grade I use the approach in ethics quite often.
During my training, my instructor gave me an article on the topic and I was immediately impressed. I started with an adapted Storyline of a colleague in the 11th grade, which I refined with each cycle. The half-year’s focus is ethics and I use the Storyline approach usually during the final weeks of the semester. This means that the students have already acquired some theoretical background for their debating. They can test themselves within a more complex exercise in concrete actions, and see where they stand as they argue philosophically. A fictitious foundation of an enterprise has emerged as viable, where 4-5 students form a company with different roles (functions within the company) and a fictitious seed capital. In the course of the Storyline the group is given ethical problems in each lesson. Every decision has consequences in moral and financial terms, which are tracked by the group. After each decision is made, the students reflect, how and on what basis their decisions were made.
In each group of students, in each round (there were six) philosophical positions have been experienced in this way: “Have I argued Kantian?” – “Am I just in the Storyline an utilitarian?” – “How selfish am I allowed to be in this situation?”-” Are we really responsible for future generations?” Those were typical questions that the students raised. Finally, the enterprises have their final result and its development on the basis of the notes. The procedure is discussed as follows:
1. Clarification of the problem: What was the ethical problem? Was there really one?
2. Alternatives: What were other courses of action?
3. Examination of the standards: what criteria were used?
4. Appropriateness: Was the decision appropriate in retrospect?
In case there is more time left after this Storyline unit, I let students read texts on business ethics. The students can now reflect these insights with their own experience within their fictitious company. What a joy!
Timo Off worked for several years as a high school teacher for mathematics and philosophy in Kiel, Germany.
At present he works in the Department for Education in Schleswig Holstein.