Inside the schools: Huron students taking an ethical road to state competition


Is it ethical for banks to boost credit lines for financially vulnerable customers? What are the moral limits of lawyer-client privilege in murder cases? Should protester anonymity be protected in all venues? What ethical considerations should be taken into account in emergency medical evacuations?

Those are tough and controversial questions to ask anyone, regardless of education level, socioeconomic status or age. And a group of Huron High School teenage teammates will tackle them this weekend at the 2018 Michigan High School Ethics Bowl Competition.

Among them is Huron senior Miguel Cisneros (left), who stepped up to talk about his passion for the Ethics Bowl.

“I really enjoy the conversation,” Miguel says. “The conversation never goes dry in Ethics Bowl. Learning about how people define what is right is super interesting to me.

“It was tough to work around my own opinion when I started, but as the conversation continued I learned how to be unbiased. My critical thinking, writing, speaking, and focus has improved drastically.”

And Miguel knows what he’s talking about, according to Huron faculty sponsor Katie Jones.

“Miguel’s ongoing interest in ethics landed him a spot in (and a scholarship for) a prestigious ethics program for high school students at DePauw University last summer,” she proudly says, of the accomplished 17-year-old group member.

What exactly is the Ethics Bowl, you ask?

For those unfamiliar, Jones describes it as a tournament-style competition rooted in purposeful, respectful dialogue rather than debate.  Preparing for the Bowl is a five month process of teamwork and brain power spent analyzing and preparing the cases for discussion.

“Student teams compete based on the strength of the arguments they present on a variety of ethics case studies. They get a chance to really hone their analysis, argumentation, and oral presentation skills.  Plus, they have a lot of fun thinking through ethical quandaries, for which there are never any easy answers,” Jones says.

“Only good comes from it,” Miguel says, of the significant personal growth he is enjoying as a result of his participation.

“My critical thinking, writing, speaking, and focus has improved drastically. Ethics Bowl is like debate club, but not about proving the other is wrong. In Ethics Bowl you learn about what your morals are and why.”

High school Ethics Bowl competitions continue to grow. There are now 18 participating states that offer young people the opportunity to critically analyze and discuss today’s most daunting and thought-provoking ethical matters and showcase their talent while doing so.

Teammate Jasmine Xu (right) chimed in with her own insight.

“None of us are famous philosophers and we each have our own opinions on different topics – about topics that actually matter to you as an individual,” says the 15-year-old sophomore. “It’s nice to be able to discuss that openly without fear of judgement. Since ethics doesn’t really have a right or wrong answer, you can really say your opinion without someone telling you that you’re wrong, which is a nice change.”

Katie Jones is honored to head up the Huron High School Ethics Bowl team, calling them “exemplary kids.”
“They like to think and to try on others’ ideas and to argue, and they’re quite graceful about it all,” she says. “They’re willing to put themselves and their ideas on the line in a public forum and to stand up for a position that is often quite controversial.”


The 2018 Michigan High School Ethics Bowl
WHERE: UM Palmer Commons Conference Center, 100 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor MI 48109-2218
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18, 2018
ABOUT: Over 100 high school students from across lower Michigan will gather on the U-M campus to discuss, argue and examine challenging quandaries during the fifth annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl competition. The winners will represent Michigan in the National High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 21-22, 2018.

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