Middle School Students at IDS-CC Get a Jump-Start on Business Ethics
May 15, 2012 (TAMPA, Fla.) – By testing a new business ethics education competition – and becoming one of a handful of finalists from across the state – middle school students at Independent Day School-Corbett Campus (IDS-CC) learned what it’s like to make ethical and competitive business decisions, tackling a simulated crisis that would challenge even the most seasoned corporate executive.
Earlier in the year, the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE) included IDS-CC as the only school in Hillsborough County to participate in the field testing of a new interactive program that will introduce business ethics education in Florida classrooms.
Called the Competition of Decision-making with Ethics (C.O.D.E.), the program put students on the front line of a hypothetical business, where they had to make critical, ethical and competitive business decisions in a crisis situation. Because IDS-CC teachers are gifted-endorsed and provide differentiation of instruction, the school was included in the pilot of what is a high school-level program.
The FCEE plans to launch the business ethics competition statewide during the Fall 2012-13 school year. It was developed in collaboration with leading educators, ethicists, and business leaders and received initial funding from John Sykes, founder of JHS Capital Advisors.
According to FCEE Program Manager Stephanie Georgiades, the competition incorporates a 9-12 grade-level curriculum, which involves higher-order thinking skills and rigorous and relevant content. “The level of engagement and ethical reasoning that the IDS-CC students achieved is a true testament to the innovative teaching strategies that these students experience daily,” she said.
IDS-CC middle school humanities teacher Stephen Shoe used the program with the students in his Debate Club. He was assisted by FCEE volunteer Jan Baskin of Florida Hospital-Tampa Bay Division, who shared her corporate expertise and insight into how businesses respond in times of trouble. Mr. Shoe began the case study with a series of lessons about new and advanced economic theories. The class then moved into a six-week role playing simulation as the upper management team of a corporation.
In the business dilemma, their company had launched a series of supply rockets to the International Space Station. In a tragic accident, one of the rockets crashed into a small Florida town, creating millions in property damage, economic loss, and environmental issues.
The scenario was presented using digital story-telling technology across multiple platforms and formats. After viewing a simulated “breaking news story” video, students received press releases, Facebook posts, Tweets, and ongoing news coverage as the story developed.
As a culminating activity, students role-played through the process of resolving their company’s ethical and business decisions on video. Out of the 56 videos submitted from three Florida school districts, judges selected nine team finalists, including one produced by the IDS-CC team of Camelia Elkasri, Sam Goetz, and Camryn Hak.
“The IDS video was the only one selected that was produced by middle schoolers,” said Mrs. Baskin. “That our students could compete successfully primarily among high schoolers from across the region was remarkable.”
While the program was part of the curriculum in the high schools and incorporated into classes that met daily or several times a week, the IDS-CC pilot was conducted through its Debate Club that met only once a week for 45 minutes. “For IDS students, it was the first time that they were exposed to business ethics and to the history of economics,” said Mrs. Baskin. “Yet, they were able to transfer what they had learned into a video with content that the judges deemed worthy of being a finalist.”
According to Mr. Shoe, successful teaching and learning stems from enabling students to make connections between school and real life. “And this program did exactly that,” he said. “Integrating Web 2.0 tools and platforms like social media and blogs kept students engaged because these are the technologies that make up ‘their world.’ In that way, the program met students ‘where they live,’ while giving them the opportunity to grapple with some serious and relevant issues.”
“The program taught us that corporations need to take responsibility for their actions,” said eighth grader Sam Goetz. “Taking responsibility can often mean making temporary sacrifices for the common good.”