Then, they have to prepare for the required tasks for the program, which include writing an outline for the chapter, giving an oral presentation and presiding over class discussion by asking two open-ended questions. Each group has one hour to demonstrate their assignments. To promote their involvement, I tell them that if they do a good job of accomplishing the tasks, they do not have to take the final exam. The trade-off turns out to be very effective because I find they are extremely dedicated to this program.
I am very proud to say that these students are very creative in presenting these topics. Many of them try to dramatize the issue in concern. For example, these two people are playing the roles of the donor and the recipient of organ transplantation. And, this group makes use of stuffed toys to narrate the story of Brain Death. As you note in this picture, this group involves a dog in their oral presentation on Ethical limits of animal use. Since there is an affiliated hospital next to our school, some students even make use of the setting for their presentation. They play the roles of news reporters and interview the doctors in the hospital to talk about the issue in concern.
For the discussion part, most students are involved in the activity. And they do not hesitate to bring out diverse opinions. Although some of the views are apparently in conflict with each other, students maintain the rapport of the classroom mostly based on the understanding that different background may make different perspectives. For instance, although most students agree that organ donation is very beneficial to the society as a whole, some suggest that from the perspective of Buddhism, the dying body should not be moved or touched or the dying person might suffer from extreme pain and get angry. Although the person in the status of brain death might not be able to utter any words, his/her soul is still functioning and can feel the senses. Therefore, people who are determined to donate their organs should make a very thoughtful decision and prepare for the suffering from organ transplantation. Otherwise, the negative emotion might make them descend to a worse after-life world. On the other hand, if they recognize that the pain is a manifestation of great love, their sacrifice will lead them to ascend to a better after-life world.
Some of the students even share with us their most private information during the discussion. For example, more than one student report that the gene of cancer run in their families and they are brave enough to face the reality. One girl tells us the story of her cousin dying of car accident. He donated his organs and the family members of the recipient give the donor’s family a great sum of money to show their gratitude. These personal experiences are very meaningful.
Personally, I believe the students internalize many important concepts. For example, the group taking charge of Ethical limits of animal use relate the chapter to a controversial custom in Taiwan called “Super Pig Competition.” In Taiwan, a specific group of people have the custom to raise “super pigs.” They give the creatures the most comfortable living environment and feed them as much as possible. The pigs will grow, as in this case, to 1200 kilograms. The heaviest pig can win the prize and finally gets sacrificed for the festival. Students believe this is not a right way to treat animals even though most people believe that pigs are basically raised to be eaten.
As noted, this program is very educational to the students. However, there are some limitations, too. For instance, as an English teacher, I am not very well-equipped with bioethics background knowledge, which sometimes makes me feel unconfident or even uncomfortable when working with students to explore some specific dimensions of the field. However, like any pioneering task, experience accumulation is one of the most important and effective ways to surmount the difficulties. Especially when there are so many generous helping hands around, I believe the teaching of the material will get more and more successful.
Finally, thank you for your devotion to the development of the material. And thank you for your attention to my presentation.