Ethical investment

10th June 2005 at 01:00
Mike Levy reviews a pack that explores whether the profit motive can be compatible with good moral standards

MORALS AND MONEY. Teachers' pack pound;50. Students' pack pound;5, Photocopiable student's pack pound;75. Video pound;15. One teacher pack, 25 student packs and video pound;175. JABE, PO Box 3840, The Hyde, Colindale, London NW9 6LG. www.moneyandmorals.org

These are some of the issues raised by Morals and Money, a resource pack for key stages 4 and 5. The pack consists of students' and teachers'

resources that offer everything needed for a 15-lesson course in business ethics.

The course consists of five units: * marketing;

* people in business;

* operations and products;

* finance;

* external influences.

Each unit has the same basic structure: there are introductory questions to stimulate class discussion; then students are presented with case studies that highlight an ethical dilemma; and the unit concludes with an "Enrichment Section", which contains extra resources such as newspaper cuttings, legal perspectives and so on.

The pack is clearly the result of a lot of work and classroom experience.

Teachers will be especially pleased that the lesson plans are given in full and that no previous knowledge of business, economics or ethics is required.

Everything has been designed to "take and teach", and in that respect the material works well and has been carefully thought out. Each unit begins with a list of learning objectives ("To help students understand the concepts of false things and misrepresentation", for instance). There is advice on possible plans for one, two or three lessons. This gives the flexibility to fit the material into your own timetable.

The authors provide an introduction to the whole area of ethics, covering the social contract, moral consciousness and religious belief. As these are all potential minefields, the authors provide advice on how to approach teaching ethics including the teacher's role as moral educator and guide.

("Don't be frightened of extending an opinion" they advise.) Unit one draws students into areas that are bound to fascinate them, such as the ethical foundation of marketing. They are asked to consider the issues behind a slogan that may or may not be totally truthful (politicians please note).

In Case One, for example, they are asked to discuss the implications involved when a public relations agency has devised a range of slogans for products such as chocolate, snacks, shampoo and compact discs.

So when a campaign claims that its products are "bigger", "better" or "more healthy" - what ethical issues are being raised? When does exaggeration turn to misrepresentation, and when does bending the truth become lying?

The issues are designed to stimulate discussion and consideration of ethical principles. That first unit, as with all of them, concludes by looking at the broad ethical issues raised by the case studies.

Students are asked questions such as: "Is there a difference between selling an item or a service and 'selling' yourself on a CV?"

The material does not shirk from contentious issues, such as child labour in developing countries which provide many of the goods we rely on in the West. The strength of this pack is the richness of content and (given its low-cost production standards) the variety of stimulus materials, such as articles, dialogues, photographs and questionnaires.

The material has been designed to fit into the business curriculum for GCSE, ASA2, GNVQ and AVCE. This is a timely and well researched pack which should encourage the teaching of an area that is becoming increasingly important.

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