Paula Mirk

Ethically Fit

Even a topic as conceptual as ethics can become a kinesthetic experience to help students get out of their seats and get the brain-blood flowing. Your students will thank you for thinking of ways to make learning fun and active, such as frequently using patterns of small- and large-group activity and asking students to scribe on flip charts, whiteboards, or smartboards (try to never be the only one standing!).

Signal to your students that you want to meet their needs and encourage their authentic input by asking them to come up with a more physical or active way to carry out an activity they've done before. This provides review and deepening understanding of concepts while innovating and building knowledge ... and having fun.

Perhaps equally important, we must remember that the mind is a muscle! We use the brand name Ethical Fitness® because our work has taught us that ethics is similar to physical activity: practice results in improvement. The more your students can build awareness, interact with and apply ethical values, and practice ethical decision making, the more ethical they will become. Watch this student-created video featuring moral dilemmas and the need to practice decision making to be ethically fit:

Both the focus on physical activity throughout the school day and being ethically fit tie directly to the core ethical values we want students to internalize. Our efforts to meet the needs of all learners signal our respect for them and our earnest interest in their well-being now and into the future.

Paula Mirk worked at whole child partner the Institute for Global Ethics (IGE) for 17 years. For the majority of her tenure, she oversaw IGE's education department. IGE collaborates with national and international organizations and with school districts large and small to integrate ethical literacy into classroom practice, school culture, and systemic reform. Connect with IGE at

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