Bioethics Invades High School Classrooms Bioethics Invades High School Classrooms

Bioethics Invades High School Classrooms

by Nikhil Swaminathan

April 9, 2010
Miller-McCune has an interesting piece on the proliferation of bioethics courses on high school campuses around the country. (Full disclosure: The piece was written by a former coworker of mine.) As a result, students are now discussing thorny quandaries, such as who is most deserving of organ donations, whether one would want to know if they had a genetic predisposition to a disease, and their feelings toward genetically modified foods.

Seems like pretty heavy stuff for teenagers, but according to the piece, universities are now training teachers to preside over these courses, and the National Institutes of Health even created its own curriculum for how it could be done.

High school is “a perfect time” to introduce bioethics, said Liz Crane, a biology teacher at Brookline High School in Massachusetts who helped write the NIH curriculum. “Teenagers are very drawn to issues of fairness or justice — they’re constantly having conversations with their parents about whether a rule in the house is fair, what’s equitable or not. The job of a high school is to cultivate curious learners and responsible citizens. At 18, they’ll be voting; a college or university is too late to be embarking on these issues.”

Interestingly, the topic of abortion is avoided in most of these classes, whereas the subject of stem cells is omitted in some bioethics courses and, in others, is considered the most pressing bioethical dilemma.

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Bioethics Invades High School Classrooms