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642Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

Teaching bioethics: a pedagogical model using children’s complementation of moral conflict stories

- Eliane S. Azevedo *   Synara M. Leal **   Érico M. Gonçalves**.

* Full Professor of  Bioethics, Head of the Núcleo de Bioética, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, UEFS, Bahia, Brasil.

** Graduate Student of Biological Sciences- UEFS.

Núcleo de Bioética, Dept. Ciências Biológicas – UEFS- Km 03 – BR 116 – Feira de Santana, 44.031-460 – Bahia, Brasil.

Email: eliane@uefs.br


The present work was designed under the assumption that the teaching of Bioethics to youngsters should preferentially focus    the ethics of human relationships rather than the ethical aspects of techno-scientific advances. This assumption must hold true not only for developing countries with social problems, as Brazil, but also for those technically developed countries having social conflicts. On the other hand, the ten years University experience, of one of us (ESA), on teaching Bioethics, suggests that undergraduate students are more open to learn humanitarian Bioethics than graduate students. Thus, the idea to work out a pedagogical model for teaching Bioethics at school, in addition to investigate how youngsters at ages 8 to 15 years would spontaneously find a way to solve   moral conflicts. The design of the methods should also be able of giving to the teacher an opportunity for talking about bioethical general principles of beneficence, nom-maleficence and justice (2).


Two primary schools were selected in the town of Feira de Santana in the State of Bahia, Brazil, following the criteria of being large schools, one public and other private. By visiting these schools the Authors asked the school’s Directors’ consent for carrying out the research work and also for collaborating by choosing school children with some leadership behavior so there would be no inhibitions during the work The Directors kindly brought the children to us in groups of five or six at each time. The children were informed that they were being invited to participate in a teaching playing experience with some University professors. There was a general enthusiastic agreement from the children.

A classroom was reserved by the school’s Director for the experience. In that room there were a low table surrounded by children size chairs. Thus, the children and the three Authors were all seated on similar level and conditions. After a few minutes of mutual presentations, one of us explained how the playing would be: - the children should listen very carefully the story because the end of it will be invented by then.

Story 1 – Once upon a time, in a very small village named Sempre Viva, located away on the hinterland of Bahia State in Brazil, there was a schoolboy named Pedro. Pedro was seen as a rich boy  mainly because he always was the first one to wear new and beautiful clothes brought to him by his father who was a dealer-voyager. The autumn season was at the end, the cold and windy nights were there, and that particular night was the special occasion of a big popular party at the main square of Sempre Viva village. Everyone was very excited about the party, especially Pedro. For him that was the proper occasion for wearing his new coat just brought by his father. The party was happily going on. Every other school child had also dressed his or her better clothes and everyone was truly enjoying that great happening. Pedro was really proud of his new coat praised by everyone. Suddenly Pedro saw a small girl stand by herself watching the party at a distance. Pedro goes to her and asks her name. She answers: Isabelle. Pedro notes that her voice is thin and that she is trembling of cold under her poor dresses. “You are frozen…” “Why don’t you get more clothes?” Asks Pedro. “ I have no other clothes”. Said Isabelle...

At this point, the Teacher interrupts the story and keeps silent for a moment. The children

. pp. 642-645 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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