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Ethically Speaking

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Farmingdale High School’s History Club Competes in National Competition

The Farmingdale High School’s History Club has been preparing since September for the regional Long Island Ethics Bowl competition organized by the Squire Family Foundation. The Ethics Bowl is an opportunity for students to work collaboratively to discuss and debate the subtleties of complex issues. Topics include the morality of consuming factory-farmed animal products and the moral significance of naming buildings. The goal is not to win a particular debate but, rather, which team was able to articulate most thoroughly, the intricacy and significant nuances of the issue.

“I know firsthand that experience for the students is more important than outcomes these days,” said Farmingdale High School Principal, Dr. Samuel Thompson. “We cannot discount the participation in the History Club under the guidance and expertise of dedicated staff and why these experiences are essential for students now more than ever.”

The Ethics Bowl is a national competition and the winner of the Long Island competition will participate in the National Competition, hosted by North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Philosophy Department. Preparation for this year's competition had been completely different and offered its challenges as well as its opportunities. Farmingdale’s students have done a wonderful job of adapting. Students were engaged and worked hard in preparation for the competition. The teams received their regional Ethics Bowl cases in mid-September and have been meeting regularly via Google Meet to analyze the cases, establish their arguments, and practice their presentations for the competition. Since this year’s competition was also held virtually, the practice platform helped Farmingdale get acquainted and comfortable with presenting their case in this unique way.

“As a judge again this year, I saw the deep level of analysis and application required of all the students,” said Farmingdale’s Director of Social Studies, Samantha Black. “We look forward to participating in a virtual United Nations Model Congress through Hofstra University this March.”

Thirty-eight high school teams from New York and New Jersey participated in this year’s regional level of the National High School Ethics Bowl. The students participated in four rounds, where they took turns presenting their arguments for the ethics committee’s consideration on a variety of current topics and then responded to the other team's commentary on their positions, as well as responding to the questions from the judges.

The Ethics Bowl is a competitive yet collaborative event in which students analyze and discuss real-life, timely ethical issues. An ethics bowl differs from a debate in that students are not assigned opposing views; rather, they defend whatever position they believe is right and win by showing that they have thought more carefully, deeply, and perceptively about the cases in question. Experience shows that the event encourages and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking skills, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for diverse points of view.

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