Students are in the midst of making so many ethical choices about the types of people they should be hanging out with. There is peer pressure to spend time with people who may make questionable life choices but whose approval is important for a student’s self-esteem. And then there are parents whose messages often conflict with what students believe inside. Decisions on which company to keep are not easy but they are integral to moral development.
Goal-setting is thought to be a skill of highly successful people. Some students are really good at it. They map out their life events with certain outcomes in mind. Other students just want to ‘go with the flow’ and goal-setting makes them nervous and unfulfilled. The value of goal-setting is in dispute and, therefore, students must decide for themselves how they want to integrate it into their life activities.
Respect is something all students want. The question is how to get it. Students are told that if they hold themselves in high regard, people will want to be around them. They are also told that respect comes from doing things for others. Though the path towards respect is different for people, all agree that it is a worthwhile pursuit and leads to greater self-awareness and self-efficacy.
Success, students are told, comes from doing well in school, building friendships and finding the right career. The only problem is they aren’t told exactly how to find this success and whether actually loving what they do should even be a consideration. As a result, it’s important for students to develop a self-awareness around what success means to them and how they plan to get it.
Happiness is one those concepts that students talk and think about a lot, but rarely define. They are encouraged to motivate themselves to set goals to achieve happiness but the path is never laid out with any clarity. Reflecting on what happiness actually is can help students become more self-aware of what they value in life.
Anger is an emotion that all of us have to manage throughout our lives. Students get angry with their teachers, their friends and parents. It’s important for them to develop a self-awareness around their anger so that they can decide when getting angry, or remaining calm, is the right response to a situation which aggrieves them.
Everybody experiences struggle. Sometimes the struggle ends up making the person more self-confident, stronger and better able to move forward to the next challenge. But other times adversity breeds fear and inaction. Every struggle is an opportunity for students to make an ethical choice on how to respond in a way that helps them cope with the challenges they will face.
Fear is an emotion we can all identify with. Fear causes stress and discomfort, and makes us do things we would not otherwise do. People react to fear in different ways. Some remain calm; others lose control of their mind which causes even more distress. Dealing with fear in productive ways is an important life skill that helps us manage stress.
The Coronavirus outbreak of 2020 has driven society into isolation. Schools are closed. Businesses are shut down. Our social lives have stopped functioning. And we’re at home with much more alone time. Isolation can breed some sadness and despair but also offers a chance for us to reflect and evaluate our lives in a positive and meaningful way.
Every student knows a little something about enemies and conflict. They don’t get along with everybody and these inevitable conflicts force them to make choices about how to treat other people. These choices have real consequences as they impact their capacities to build and sustain friendships.
Life throws unexpected events at us which take us by surprise. When crisis happens, we feel out of control. We are left to react in the best ways we can to protect ourselves and improve our situations, but we often feel like our actions don’t matter in the face of an indifferent world.
Students know what it feels like to be hurt. When they are hurt, they have choices to make about how to treat the people who hurt them. These choices give them opportunities to demonstrate empathy and respect for others and to preserve relationships, or break them off. Forgiveness is a moral choice which strikes at the heart of ethical decision-making.