Philosophy club members to host first prep ethics bowl at MUC

SIUE’s Lyceum club members wanted to introduce philosophy to area high school students.

Lyceum club members (from left) Matthew Bazzell, Alfredo Piña, Stephen Wilke and Andrew Pashea will host SIUE's first ethics bowl for High School students at the Morris University Center on April 25. (Photo by Joseph Lacdan)

So this spring, the Lyceum organized the first SIUE High School Ethics Bowl.

The event marks the first time high schools in the Edwardsville area will get a chance to compete head to head in a contest designed to spark interest in ethics and in the philosophy field.

“I think that philosophy has been left out in terms of curriculum in high schools,” said Lyceum vice president Andrew Pashea. “I think the importance of the study should be definitely acknowledged and taught. I think that it nurtures critical thought in students. I think that it helps them to examine their lives, figure out what their values are.”

Three area high schools are scheduled to compete in the event: Belleville East High School, Collinsville High School, and Triad High School (Troy). Each school will have seven team members and three teachers acting as coaches. The bowl will be held in the Illinois and Mississippi rooms in the Morris University Center on April 25 and hosted by the Lyceum, a philosophy club open to all majors that promotes critical thought.

Teams will be randomly quizzed on topics with ethical concerns including building on federally-protected lands. Six topics were written by SIUE philosophy faculty members Saba Fatima, Matthew Cashen, Christopher Pearson, Bryan Lueck and Alison Reiheld. The remaining topics were selected from categories used in the National High School Ethics Bowl. The club members hope that students will enjoy the experience while receiving exposure to ethics earlier in life. Club members said students often do not learn about ethics until they begin taking college courses.

“We’re trying to bring philosophy to high schools because it’s something that most high schools in this area lack,” said club president Stephen Wilke. “So I’m really big on trying to bring critical thinking and philosophy to places that it’s not usually found.”

Wilke said that he hopes to make the ethics bowl an annual for local high school students and hopes more high schools will participate. Wilke added that about eight high schools showed interest this year, but there was not enough time to prepare.

Each high school team will have five team members compete at a time. Each team will be given a topic and time to confer and form a statement. Then the opposing team will also be given time to discuss a topic and respond. In addition to pitting schools in a competitive, educational environment, the students will also have the opportunity to learn teamwork skills.

“This ethics bowl is an interesting and possibly fun way for high school students to be introduced to something like philosophical thought or inquiry by debating about ethical topics,” Pashea said. “By debating them, they have to think about them. And by making it into kind of a debate as if it were competition, it’s almost like a game. They’ll be engaged in it rather than giving them an introductory text and having them read it by themselves, I think it’s a really cool way for them to get together as a group and tackle this together.”

Each team will participate in a head-to-head debate twice; against each of the opposing teams. The judges will weigh the quality of each team’s argument on a point scale and determine the final winner.

“The structure itself is different. In a debate you normally have two polar opposite sides,” Wilke said. “This one is more cooperative, so you’re building on the other person’s argument and trying to create the best argument as opposed to just beating your opponent down.”

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