The Importance of Teaching Students Ethics

The Importance of Teaching Students Ethics

People often confuse morals, values and ethics and use them interchangeably. Before we can talk about why students should learn ethics, we should know what ethics really are and how they differ from values and morals. Although all three of them provide behavioural rules and guidelines so what is the difference?

The rules that we use to make our personal decisions about wrong and right, good and bad are known as values. Using values we can work towards what is more imperative and not worry about what isn’t vital. Morals, on the other hand, describe whether actions are right or wrong, good or bad. Ethics are the rules that a set of people adopt and follow. These days the term is generally associated with professions such as medical ethics, business ethics, journalistic ethics and so on.

These associations themselves show how important it is for those hoping to enter the professional field to learn ethics. The fact remains that ethics can only be grounded in an individual, if he or she starts learning them from an early age. This is why it becomes very important that students be taught ethics right from school.

Let’s take a detailed look at why students need to learn ethics.

Ethics are Inescapable

This may sound ominous but if you stop to think about it, it is actually true. The whole framework of society and perhaps of civilization is very dependent upon ethics. Can you think of a society which lacks the basic code of conduct about how we need to interact with each other? Imagine a society in which there are no rules about ownership of property, for example. Anyone could take anything from anyone else without having to ask for permission. Think of how much conflict would be generated. People would be too busy trying to protect what is theirs to really worry about how anything else would function. There would be no cohesion in society. Without the glue of ethics, no society could hold together.

Ethics Teach You to Question

Having or following ethics means that you can actually think independently about what is wrong or right in you, your family and your society. When you study ethics, you can get a bird’s eye view of the values that society has and reflect on whether these values have wisdom behind them or are foolish. You can also be clear about your own values and what reasons you have behind your actions. At the same time you can evaluate and examine the values of those around you.

Ethics Make You Successful

Time and again, we are told that if we want to get ahead in life, we have to let so-called ‘trivial’ constraints such as values and ethics go. However, the truth is that ethics actually help you on the path to success. Think about it like this – even the slickest salesman has to at least pretend to have ethics in order to make the sale. That means that people who actually do have ethics can achieve a much greater level of success than the slick salesman who’s made some shady sales and earned a good commission. The interpersonal relationships that ethical people build last much longer and are great in helping their businesses thrive.

Ethics Allow You Inner Peace

When people live their lives ethically there is more peace, calm, focus and productivity in their lives. The fact is that when we treat people unfairly or badly, we have to suppress our guilt and our conscience to do so. This requires more energy and leaves us feeling unsettled and chaotic – a chaos that bleeds over into our lives. The guilt and accompanying shame never really go away and they affect how we feel about ourselves and our relationships with everyone around us. On the other hand, those who follow certain ethics don’t have this kind of upheaval. Their consciences are at rest and that means they experience more peace and less internal conflict.

Ethics are basic rules but ones that need to be seated deep in our psyches for them to be effective. For this reason, students need to start learning ethics at a very early age. Only then will they be able to follow them in later life.


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