Willow Middle Schoolers Participate in First Ethics Bowl

by | May 7, 2019 | Homepage News, Virtues

Congratulations to Willow’s Ethics Bowl Team! Last week, our team competed alongside seven other local schools in the first-ever New Jersey Middle School Ethics Bowl, modeled after the National High School Ethics Bowl.

What is an Ethics Bowl?

The goal of the NJ Middle School Ethics Bowl is to teach students how to think through ethical issues together, as fellow citizens in a complex moral and political community. An Ethics Bowl is not a debate between the teams; instead, it’s a collaborative event during which students discuss their understanding of the ethical issues in each case presented. They defend whichever position they think is correct, provide each other with constructive criticism, and win by demonstrating that they have thought rigorously and systematically about the cases and engaged respectfully and supportively with all participants. Last week’s event was organized by The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School.

Virtues & Ethics at Willow

Willow sees the Ethics Bowl as the perfect opportunity for our students to hone their critical thinking and communications skills as they apply the values they learn in our school-wide Virtues Program. 

“The Ethics Bowl is a natural extension of our Virtues curriculum,” said Sally Zeiner, Director of Outreach & Logistics at Willow who also taught our Ethics Bowl team in this year’s new middle school Ethics elective. “In ethics class, students are asked to reflect on their commitments and decide how to apply them to complex issues. They are challenged to articulate their decisions and consider other perspectives.”

Each of the twelve teams participating in the Ethics Bowl was given a list of six real-life cases that presented ethical questions, such as the 2017 case in which Harvard rescinded offers of admission after students posted inappropriate content on social media. You can see all six cases, and find out more about the Bowl, on their website. Teams had to work together to research the cases, agree on a position, and defend that position with supplemental information. During the competition, no notes are allowed, so students really have to know the cases, their supporting points, and their ethics! 

“This has been a great opportunity for our students to dive deep into real ethical issues,” said Zeiner. “Through this process, they have also gained invaluable experience articulating their views in a respectful manner and listening to others.” 

Willow middle school students won their first round and made us so proud throughout the day with their articulate, well-researched responses to real-life ethical dilemmas. Go Team Willow! We look forward to many more Middle School Ethics Bowls to come! 

Willow Alumni & The National Ethics Bowl

Last year, a Willow alumna was a part of Kent Place School’s winning National High School Ethics Bowl Team! Read more about Willow alumna Megan Traudt and team’s win in 2018. 

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