Nurturing Ethical Minds: Inside Hausner's Upper School Ethics Bowl

Nurturing Ethical Minds: Inside Hausner's Upper School Ethics Bowl
Rabbi Danny Lehmann

6th grade students at Hausner participate in an Ethics Bowl competition as a special component of our focus on Philosophy throughout the school. What is an Ethics Bowl you may be wondering? Small teams of students meet weekly to unpack and analyze a set of complex ethical dilemmas. Guided by graduate philosophy students who serve as team coaches, our students formulate questions and think about various approaches to consider in thinking about the ethical issues that the cases raise. 

Cases can deal with ethical problems that emerge in new technologies like AI or they may present questions of how we balance our responsibility to preserve the environment with the concern for economic disparities. After exploring conflicting values and a variety of perspectives, two teams of students present their analysis before a panel of judges who engage in a conversation with each team. The goal is to demonstrate a thoughtful and thorough analysis that also responds to and learns from the analysis of the other team as well as the engagement with judges. 

Hausner’s Ethics Bowl benefits from our partnership with the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), affiliated with the University of Washington, and its director, Dr. Jana Mohr Lone. Hausner is currently the only Jewish Day School that offers an Ethics Bowl for Middle School age students in the Bay area and we are planning to collaborate with other area schools to expand the program regionally. As Silicon Valley’s premiere TK-8 Jewish day school, we are committed to cultivate students’ capacity to apply the multi-millennial wisdom drawn from Jewish and Western tradition to societies’ most urgent ethical problems. Our students will not only be the generators of new technological solutions, but also leaders who think deeply and creatively about our ethical responsibilities.

For more insights into Hausner’s Ethics Bowl, watch our video here.


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