The ethics of teaching ethics

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

Significant publicity has been given recently to a new educational resource from Susted: Ethica -The Ethical Finance Game.

Susted says:

This is an educational board and role-play game. It lets players assume the roles of bank customers, investment bankers or co-operative business entrepreneurs with money to save, invest and loan.  It explores how well their ethical intentions stand up in the world of international finance.  Players visit different banks where they can choose a share investment, cooperative investment or a savings account.  Each investment gives the player either a positive or negative financial (Profit), social (People) and environmental (Planet) score.  This score is partly dependent on news of the business investments, global economic news and partly based on chance.

I thought this all to be welcomed, until I read the next sentence (which I take at face value):

Needless to say that the most ethical family investor and bank investor win.

Why do they, I wondered, given that they don't always manage this in the everyday.

The purpose of an educational role play (or simulation) is to hold up a mirror to reality to enable participants to learn about that reality vicariously.  The role play mirror may well simplify reality, it may make time move more quickly, but it is always a plain mirror and does not set out to distort the known world – otherwise the value of the experience is lost, and any learning from it may well be perverse.

So, in what sense is this an educational role play at all – when it sets out to distort reality in this fashion.  It sounds rather propagandist to me – especially as it clearly doesn't trust participants to come to their own views.  What a pity.  Seems a poor use of all that EU Leonardo cash.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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