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Introduction to the Project on Bioethics for Informed Choices - page 115 / 115





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Bioethics Education645

also a strong stimulator of creativity.

It became  clear that the moral principle regarding the care for others were already present on the children’s perception. Helping others, specially the poorer ones (Story One), is a general moral value in Brazil. Do not have prejudice against physical appearance (Story Two), is an ambiguous moral principle in Brazil. The great majority of the Brazilian declare themselves as having no racial prejudice; however, admit that the Brazilian, in general, are racist (3). This moral ambiguity became clear in the Story Two complementations, when 29.9% of the children decided to keep a hidden friendship with Citrus. The Authors recognized that if Citrus was a Negro or Indian none children would, theoretically, rejects his friendship. In Brazil, it is not morally good to openly exclude others for being either Negro or Indian. Thus, the construction of a physically different green boy, instead of a black or a yellow one, was a way the Authors found to give a better approach to the moral feeling regarding having friends of different out look. Finally, in Story Three, the description of a poorly dressed boy needing to be informed of a dangerous situation for him, deals with the moral principle of respect for the poor, which is generally recognized as a virtue, in Brazil. The results corroborated this assumption.

Under the evidence that the children already have  moral conceptions about helping others; respect for the different ones, and praise for the poor, the present results agree with Sheriff’s criticism regarding teaching ethics, once ethics  “is an inherent quality learn as part of a development process of a personality” (4). It was clear that the children knew about the prevalent types of morality in Brazil. However, the main pedagogical point of the method is to create an opportunity for having ethics subject treated as a school’s subject. The children at school are randomly influenced by the moral values of colleagues, teachers and staff. Thus, ethics subjects should not be let entirely drifting at school. Humanitarian moral principles must be passed to children as a school activity.

On the other hand, if ethics subjects are introduced as a theoretical discipline in the school curriculum, it certainly will be questioned on the “effect of a few hours of classes… on a long life” (5). As a theoretical discipline, ethics may be a weak competitor with the circumstantial moral influences of real life. However, if the ethics topics are treated as something jointly constructed by children and teachers, by means of activities related to the children’s life, given then the opportunity for expressing themselves in a effort to solve moral conflicts, as in the present method, the teaching of ethics may became  contributory to the personality development.

Thus we conclude that story complementation method seems to be adequate for teaching humanitarian ethics to children. Moral conflicts stories to be complemented and solved by the children stimulates creativity, reveals moral background already acquired and creates an adequate pedagogical opportunity for teaching humanitarian ethics in school. Further applications of the methods, mainly in other cultures, are highly desirable.



Leal SM, Gonçalves EM, Azevedo ES. Modelo Pedagógico para Ensino da Bioética a Alunos de Primeiro e Segundo Graus. Annals Sixth World Congress of Bioethics, p 228, Oct. 30th - Nov. 3rd, 2002, Brasilia, Brazil.


Beauchamp TL & Childress JF. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 5th Ed. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, 2001.


Azevedo E. Raça: Conceito e Preconceito. Ed. Ática, São Paulo, Brasil, 1987.


Sheriff DS. Can ethics be taught? EJAIB 11 (2001), 15-17.


Izumi O. One Attempt at Bioethics Education in a High School Ethics Class. EJAIB 9 (1999), 78-79.

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