Provincial ethics bowl 'an exercise of the brain,' says high school student
The University of Toronto's psychology department is holding an ethics competition this weekend where high schools from across Ontario will discuss various ethical topics.
Three teams from local high schools are set to participate in the Ontario Ethics Bowl on Saturday: two from Tecumseh Vista Secondary School and one from Assumption College Catholic High School.
Jeremy Bracken, head of the business department at Assumption and head coach of the debate team, said these ethics competitions make the students "better critical thinkers."
"They're inundated with so much information … from all sides of the political spectrum. So I think this now gives them the research and communication skills necessary to understand how to be better thinkers in this media day and age."
According to Bracken, around 30 students at Assumption are involved with the ethics part of the debate club.
"There's empowerment in learning how to be a strong communicator, on how to understand how to research on how to communicate ideas, in a way that's persuasive to an entire room."
'A competition of discourse'
Justina He, a senior student at Tecumseh Vista, said the ethics bowl is a "different take on the competitions we are used to."
"This is more of what I would consider an exercise of the brain. I find it very stimulating."
The ethics bowl releases the topics to be discussed "several months ahead of time," according to Bracken.
Some topics for this year's bowl include land acknowledgments, charitable rights and wrongs, compassion robots for the elderly and more.
"You use a lot of critical thinking; you have to use a lot of research skills," said He. "It's very much just a competition of discourse."
Finding common ground with opposing teams
Bracken said the difference between the ethics team and regular debate is that ethics encourages students to come up with their own arguments.
"The winning teams are always the ones that can find common ground with the opponent, but then challenge them on the space where they slightly differ in their perspectives."
Bracken said if teams can't find "common ground," with opponents who may have opposing points, they won't be able to get the necessary points to win.
"I think it does a great job in promoting that critical thinking, but also seeing how maybe people that have a different worldview do have many similar perspectives at the same time."
For He, the five-month process has been full of research and writing to prepare and qualify for the Ontario Ethics Bowl.
"You have to be prepared for all kids of questions, no matter what they are."
Bracken said the ethics team makes him feel "great about the future."
"Most people my age or even older have kind of become polarized in a lot of the world view. But an event like the ethics bowl invites people to understand all that grey area in between and it really does encourage people to see the world with a broader perspective."