In Scotland, they are teaching ethics to kids simply by getting them to eat lunch in the school cafeteria. At the same time, they're getting healthy meals down the kids who in the past have preferred eating lunch at local chip shops while inching towards obesity. This is a great feel-good story on so many levels.
Wait, there's more. The Scots have linked nutritious diets to the concept of global citizenship and charitable giving. The kids start feeling better physically -- which helps in staying alert to learn --and they feel good about themselves for helping to fund projects in third-world countries and deprived communities. Additionally, the program helps to boost the local economy by purchasing ingredients locally for the lunch program. It makes me want to go back to school.
SCHOOL LUNCHES EARN "CHARITY POINTS"
Thousands of kids -- 16,500 children in 53 schools in East Ayrshire -- earn "charity points" in exchange for eating school lunches, which can then be used to purchase goods from the Save the Children Wishlist for projects around the world. In the process, they are being educated about the plight of those less-fortunate than themselves and participating in solutions.
It all started with concern over Scotland's rising obesity levels and the prevalence of unhealthy diets among children. Some schools introduced what they call "lunchtime lock-in", where pupils are prevented from leaving the school grounds during lunch break. Lock-ins are used more widely in England. This is why the Scots are calling their pilot project "Get Stuck In." Scots have among the worst diets in Europe, but the country introduced new legislation to improve school catering in 2006, according to The Guardian (U.K.).
ETHICAL APPROACH = GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP
"In some (education) authorities, schools have given away CDs or tickets to concerts," said Robin Gourlay, the council's facility head for schools. "We wanted to introduce a more ethical approach which introduces the idea of care for other people and global citizenship" he said, as reported by The Herald (U.K.)
While raising cash for charity, the program also empowers children to make decisions. Every 10 meals earns one point and the points are pooled together into a fund. Each point is certified by "dinner ladies" and tallied by classroom teachers. The students will vote, deciding themselves just how their "ethical" reward points will be spent -- from farm animals and food supplies to medical supplies and equipping classrooms.
- 15 points = 40 chickens
- 3,200 points = 1 yak, providing milk, wool and ploughing help
- 780 points = 1 bicycle
- 140 points = feed a starving child for a week
- 280 points = a new school desk
Describing the healthy-eating initiative as "a sustainable school meal service, that is entirely ethically based, Robin Gourlay told BBC News:
"We use all local produce, much of it organic, and therefore this idea of an ethical marketing scheme where children sitting down to enjoy a health school meal could also help other people around the world. I think children are very interested in social issues, and particularly what is happening around the world..."
Maybe programs like this one, teaching children the importance of ethics and helping others as part of their everyday living experience, will better educate children so they will not become cheaters like the older university students at Cambridge. To read more on the "School Gate" problems of cheating and plagiarism at the University of Cambridge, read the Ethic Soup article: "Everyone is Cheating: College Students and Their Professors."