Ethics of human rights

It’s Tuesday, which means a new topic in my online ethics classes. This week we started on human rights. I spent this morning writing the lesson. I’m using a summarised version of Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas as the introductory story to set up the discussion. (You kind of need to know the story to understand the following, so if you don’t know it, either go spoil yourself at the linked Wikipedia article, or ignore the next paragraph.)

After summarising the story, I asked: Is the city of Omelas fair to everyone? Most of the kids this evening gave the predictable, expected answer (“No”), after which I ask them to explain why they think so. But one kid said: “Well, it depends how they pick the kid. If someone just walks down the street and picks a kid they see, then that’s not fair. But if it’s done by spinning a wheel or something, then that’s fair.” I pursued this further by asking if it was fair in the sense that everyone is treated the same? The kid said, “Well… you could make it fair if the kid was released after a month or so, and they used a different kid. So everyone would have a turn being the one who has to suffer.”

The weather here has taken a very wintry turn. Yesterday evening we had a storm front come through with 110 km/h winds, causing some minor damage across the city. Today has been very windy and bone-chillingly cold. Tomorrow is expected to be even colder and with stronger winds. Across parts of south-east Australia we’ve had snow down to altitudes as low as 600 metres, which is unusual. The good news is that there hasn’t been much rain.

In other news, our electric kettle seems to have broken. That’ll be annoying until we can get a new one. We’ll have to boil water to make tea on the stove, like savages…

New content today:

5 thoughts on “Ethics of human rights”

      1. Depending on how much time you had, it is a very valid ethics topic, because we (you and I and probably all your student) are the happy people of Omelas, whose prosperity depends on the horrifying lives of, say, African cobalt miners.

  1. Not to suggest another project for you, but I was wondering if you ever thought of writing your lesson plans up in a format that you could publish/sell. Even if it was on a site like teachers pay teachers. I don’t know if outschool can claim any copyright on your work, but I bet others would love to use your work. It seems like (in proper hands) it works really well.

    1. Hmm. That wouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve already shared a couple of the lessons with parents in situations where their child couldn’t attend but really wanted to do the topic. I have them all in a format where they could be published with not much extra work.

      I’ll look into Outschool’s copyright policies. My first thought is that they shouldn’t try to claim any rights on class material written by the teachers, but I’ll check.

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