Education Letter to the Editor

Unknown Ethics

February 18, 2005 1 min read

The conclusions in Howard Good’s essay “Honor Role,” [Comment, October] are oversimplifications. To suggest that honor students only complete service for the hours is an insult to them and a damning commentary of Good’s own parenting skills. Presumably he reached his conclusion based on feelings expressed by his daughter and a small number of loud voices. His daughter is evidently expressing her own developmental failings, and Mr. Good is assuming a great deal about the students based on limited knowledge.

Mr. Good’s final paragraph relies on the fallacy of the false dilemma—that an issue is either/or. To say, for instance, that honor is the “courage to pursue personal goals” rather than “external goals” is to put Martin Luther King Jr. and others who pursued both personal and external goals outside the definition of honor.

But Mr. Good reveals most glaringly his cursory understanding of ethics when he advises his daughter to flout the rules in hopes of a confrontation with authority. Better to have taken her through some intellectual [and] ethical paces by considering the issue from several vantage points, pro and con, including that it is one of the vice principal’s responsibilities to support the school’s rules. If his daughter takes issue with the rules, courage would have required that she intelligently and directly initiate change.

Overall, a watery and unsophisticated commentary for a magazine devoted to education.

Ann Johnston

Pasadena, California

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