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Introduction to the Project on Bioethics for Informed Choices - page 95 / 115





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Bioethics Education625

Discussing “choice” as “one’s own issue”

- Takejiro Ishizuka and Kazuya Eguchi.

Shiba Gakuen Men’s High School, Tokyo, JAPAN

Email: z-gonta@dd.iij4u.or.jp

The Shiba Junior and Senior high school is a combined Junior-Senior boy’s high school located at Minato-ku, Tokyo.  There are approximately 280 students in every grade, which consist of 7 classes of 40 students.  The students are relatively earnest and quiet, but some may still be childish as a high school student, reflecting the “easy going” atmosphere of the school.  Almost all students wish to go to Universities, and show high interest in marking high scores on exams, maybe not so in learning.  This may mean that the context of the class could be interpreted as a mere terminology, or simply “Memorization”.

The “ethics” class that we teach, is compulsory for all first year high school students, two hours a week (2 credits), and three teachers are in charge.  The details are left for individual teachers to decide, but in general we try to come up with a common direction, and we share the same content.  The scheme of the class for this year term is as follows.

Since the students had to go through an entrance exam to enter junior high, motivation of individual students and their parents towards going into further studies is high.  Still, this is only a vague orientation towards entering a University.  To put it the other way around, it is a “matter of course” to go to Universities, but it is not a definite reality.  Also, they are nervous on the scores of exams, and the content of the class may become a “full memorization” item, it is hardly regarded as “understanding” or “deep thinking”.

The concern here is, that under this situation, when thinking about for example “terminal care”, the students can “memorize” in order to “get high scores”, but may not be able to think as “their own issue”.  Ms. Izumi Otani from Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku has already addressed this point in earlier papers at TRT conferences.

Therefore, we started by making the students “have their own opinion and express them”, and then to think whether they can “think as their own issue”. Considering the above points, we started by actually making the students to “write”.  Of course in the beginning, some students wrote “ideal student reports” or trying to be the devil’s advocate showing “I actually think this way, but I intentionally write the other way” kind of attitude.  Still, we didn’t question their conclusions, but rather concentrated on the structure, or the development of their reports, the accuracy of their reasoning, or simply their grammar.  With this approach, the students may have started to notice that “it is important how to tell the story, no matter what the conclusion is, and it is difficult to do so”.

Also at the beginning of the year term, we started by saying that “the difference between arts major and science major is whether you over look at the world by “persons”, or by “objects”.  We attempted to use topics related to “science” or “science major” in a class considered to be very much in the “arts major”.  We challenged the students’ clear-cut definition of what arts major, or science major is.

Also, we tried to “factorize” the students’ individual choices, reflecting their choice of which major to proceed to. We live in a constant flow of autonomous decision-making.  Within those decisions, there must be some fatalistic factors that affected that decision.  We may be building up such factors through conscious or unconscious conversations.  What can we do to find such factors?  For example, a student facing interviews for employment may be troubled by questions such as “What is your reason to choose this company?”  In such a case, the student might not have a definite factor in choosing.

These incidents may appear time to time in our daily life activities.  The first year students made their choice to major either in arts or in science.  What were the fatalistic factors leading to their decisions?

. pp. 625-626 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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