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CP students explore ethical dilemmas through reflective project

This article originally appeared in IB Global News, which provides an array of news and information about IB programmes, professional development and research.

Chantell Wyten and IBCP candidates at King Ethelbert School, Kent, UK

Chantell Wyten and IBCP candidates at King Ethelbert School, Kent, UK

The CP framework is built around three interconnected elements that include the reflective project. To gain an insider’s perspective on the teaching of ethics in relation to the reflective project, we asked Chantell Wyten, Head of Sixth Form at King Ethelbert School, Kent, UK, to give us an insight.

How do you teach ethics in the CP?

We experiment with a number of approaches. We provide students with hypothetical ethical situations for them to produce role plays, and get them to reflect on the processes of gaining/sorting/analyzing/evaluating materials. We have used sections of the Indian epic poem The Ramayana, Machiavelli’s The Prince and the film In My Lifetime to look at the concept of authorship. We help students develop personal courage and voice early on, to understand that decision-making and ethical debate is never a straight line.

What processes do you use to help students find ethical dilemmas?

Tutors start by asking students to link their career-related studies to future career goals or personal ambitions, pulling out key interests and vocabulary that they confidently “own”. It usually doesn’t take long for students to find a topic of interest but moving them beyond the issue itself can be a sticking point. If students get stuck in semantics, their mentors will encourage them to make a start on their literature review; the ethical concern often becomes apparent to them in discussion with a mentor. I certainly wouldn’t let the lack of an initial question stop students in commencing their research—nothing is worse than staring at a blank page!

How do students benefit from the reflective project?

I think the challenge all educators grapple with is how to allow for and support personalized learning. Reflective projects have been a great experiment in learning for both staff and students; they undoubtedly make students better communicators with the ability to critique and synthesize a range of viewpoints, it also takes the Learner Profile into the real world. It is one thing to create a Personal and Professional skills course that embeds educational ideals through activities that succeed in a classroom, but when students “take off” on an unknown journey, find their own sources of motivation, and catch themselves applying LP principles along the way—it is inspirational.

What do students enjoy most about the reflective project?

They find the reflective project completely immersive once they overcome the initial hurdle of pinning down an ethical question. All our CP candidates talk about their reflective project in interviews for university and apprenticeships because the projects are the best representation of what they have achieved in the 18 months following compulsory education. The depth to which they investigate issues demonstrates their passion, self discipline and ability to gain and refine knowledge that is bespoke to their dreams.

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