Blog Post Ethics Bowl

2020 High School Ethics Bowl

Got Ethics?

On December 5th, five juniors from  A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, TX, participated in the 2020 National High School Ethics Bowl Bridge (NHSEBBridge) competition, hosted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC). Inaugurated this year, NHSEBBridge, organized through the National High School Ethics Bowl, is a program for schools that have never competed in an ethics bowl previously. Designed to cultivate rigorous and respectful dialogue, the Ethics Bowl provides a space for collegial conversation about difficult ethical issues that society faces today. Each September, the NHSEB releases 15 cases for their participating teams. With the cases in hand, high school teams across the country begin preparing for the competition season by learning to reason through each case. They must formulate a position for the case while also developing questions they might ask another team. During competitions, teams are expected to answer a variety of questions from the opposing team and from a set of judges. The difficult part is that teams never know what particular issue they will be asked to address! This promotes a holistic approach to reasoning through the cases; the AMCHS team did this splendidly.  

In early October, the AMCHS Ethics Bowl Team, Freddie Behmer, Robert Behmer, Evie Conway, Ellie Hague, and Andrew Sorescu, began working on their cases every week. With the help of several coaches, Stephanie Sword (AMCHS English Dept.), Claire Katz and Daniel Conway (Faculty, Texas A&M), Michael Portal and Haley Burke (Graduate students, Texas A&M), and Kayla Robinson (Undergraduate, UNC), the AMCHS team formulated nuanced responses to each case. In addition to working through the cases, the team practiced their public speaking, tested their arguments on each other, and thought through the implications of the NHSEB cases.

These five juniors have excellent moral intuition and put in a lot of work, and so, it was no surprise that they reached the finals! From 11am until 5:30pm central time, the AMCHS team engaged in thoughtful, creative, and respectful discussions with their peers. The AMCHS team was asked to address cases concerning dating after prison, factory farming, the Harpers Bizarre letter, and wholesome discipline (restorative vs retributive justice). Additionally, they questioned other teams who responded to cases about TikTok infamous, dining out during the pandemic, what’s in a name (commemoration through named buildings), and defunding the police. Their amazing preparation, teamwork, and ethical reasoning led to high marks from the judges and acclaim from their coaches. Mrs. Sword noted the team’s ability to “work really well together.” She also affirms that “there were so many times where they just nailed it!” Indeed, one AMCHS team member, Ellie, observed that during the course of the competition day the team improved with each round they completed. Another team member, Andrew, said the team “realized how to be more polished” during the day of the Bowl.

We are so impressed with their first year of competition and look forward to next year! Check out our local initiatives tab for more information about the AMCHS Ethics Bowl Team or click here.

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