- He was an American philosopher who lived from 1921 to 2002.
- Rawls reconciled liberty and equality in one way by saying that each citizen has the right to the maximum basic personal and political liberties that are compatible with a similar system that can be afforded to others. His difference principle states that social and economic inequalities should be to the most benefit of the least advantaged members of society.
- We should put our effort into ensuring that the rules of the game are fair. Once society is organized around a set of fair rules, people can set about freely playing the game without interference.
- The adoption of his original position would allow individual people to make political decisions which may benefit more people than the current democratic systems prevalent throughout much of the world which typically rely on rules and structures inherently beneficial to those already with power.
- His veil of ignorance was the tool required to achieve his original position. According to this hypothetical tool, justice is best achieved by creating starting points which ignore factors extraneous to a situation. While Rawls focused on society at large, and a desire to eliminate factors such as parents’ wealth, height, skin color, etc., as is so often the case, a sports analogy may help make things clearer. Fantasy football leagues usually start from behind a veil of ignorance in which players’ draft positions are chosen only by luck. The NFL draft does not have this veil, as it starts out with knowledge of the previous season’s records and gives extra advantage to those who need more, in an effort to create more parity.
Tell me… Use comparisons familiar to student to ask comparing questions. For example,
- Tell me what’s bigger: a car or a bike. Expected answer: (A car is bigger than a bike.)
- Tell me what’s quieter: a library or a gym. (A library is quieter than a gym.)
- Tell me what’s colder: Alaska or Florida. (Alaska is colder than Florida.)
- Tell me what’s drier: a desert or a jungle. (A desert is drier than a jungle.)
- Tell me what’s more expensive: a house or a candy bar. (A house is more expensive than a candy bar.)
- Tell me what’s more delicious: liver or spaghetti. (Spaghetti is more delicious than liver.)
- Tell me who the tallest person in your family is. My cousin Joe is the tallest person in my family
- Tell me what the biggest planet is. Jupiter is the biggest planet.
- Tell me who your best friend is. Priscilla is my best friend.
- Tell me the most nutritious food that you can think of. Broccoli is the most nutritious food that I can think of.
Discuss world records, such as those in the Guinness Book of World Records. For example, “Where is the biggest piece of string in the world? Who is the best selling singer of all time?
Ask “why” questions. Use both questions that are familiar to student as well as ones that are personally relevant. Require the use of comparatives and superlatives. For example: “Why don’t you like classical music instead of rock and roll?” “Because rock and roll is better than classical.” “Why can’t your little brother beat you in a race?”
Go on a scavenger hunt. Write a list of target comparatives and/or superlatives to find. See who can get the most. For example, Find: the longest hall, someone taller than me, something heavier than a desk, the most confusing poster, etc.
Discuss “what ifs” using comparatives and superlatives. These are situations where things could be different What if pencils were longer than cars? What if hammers were softer than tissue paper?
(This is part of the Philosophy “Best” Bits series that can also be accessed from the top menu.)
Buddhism’s Noble Eightfold Path may be one of the best concepts to ever come out of any religion. Buddhist tradition ascribes it as the fourth of the four noble truths, taught by the original Buddha, Gautama Buddha, as the way of overcoming life’s inevitable suffering. While many may see the four truths’ admonition of life’s crappy nature as too pessimistic, it is much harder to find fault with its advice that we can better ourselves by periodically contemplating the habits of our ideas and our actions. There are many excellent explanations of the Eightfold Path on the internet that can easily be Googled, and that go into more detail than the very basic outline I’ll provide here:
Right View – One aspect of this is that we should really try to understand The Noble Truths. Another aspect of Right View – that the world, and us, and our possessions are impermanent – can truly help us come to separate our views of things from how things really are.
Right Intention – It’s not enough to just do the right things. We must habituate doing the right things for the right reasons.
Right Actions – We should attend to the effects of our actions, and attempt to adjust our future actions accordingly.
Right Speech – Be aware of the harm our words can do, especially gossip and non-constructive criticism.
Right Livelihood – I like this one, because I’ve really seen nothing like it anywhere else. Sure, we all have to earn a living, and often we have to do things we’re not crazy about in order to provide for our families, but sometimes this involves doing things which help small groups of people at the expense of society as a whole. A well contemplated life will involve scrutiny of one’s vocation as well as the consideration of change if necessary.
Right Effort – Buddhism stresses the middle way. We should be constantly considering our actions and efforts involved. This involves our time resources. It may be that we are putting too much time and effort in one area, and this time and effort can be better spent somewhere else, but we can only know this through consistent deliberate attention.
Right Mindfulness – This involves not spending too much time in the past or in the future, but instead attending to the present task at hand.
Right Concentration – Can we block out distractions effectively? Can we properly distinguish between distractions and what’s really important? If not, try to do better.
Here’s a good visualization of The Eightfold Path, from the Mindful Teachers website.
“Say More!”, an embedding activity:
Directions: Squeeze the following sentence parts into already existing sentences to make them “say more.”
Example #1 sentence parts: with the beautiful hat, that had hopped all the way from the swing, next to the piece of paper, after finding the critical clue
- The girl was riding a bike.
- The pencil rolled on my desk.
- There was a frog on the slide.
- The detective determined the identity of the burglar.
Example #2 sentence parts: instead of a period, when the boy was surprised, that the Governor should be impeached, between the words “if” and “you”
- I don’t agree with the politician’s opinion.
- Our teacher told us to write an exclamation point at the
- end of the sentence.
- The comma should be removed.
Role playing: For example, ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant with extras and/or without some condiments.
Example statements: “I would like a hamburger with extra ketchup and no mustard.” “I would like a drink with no ice.”
Explain the rules of a game, using conjunctions or relative pronouns. Write down the words ahead of time, and cross off as used.
Example statements: “Decide who goes first before you start.” “You can pick up the card that the other person laid down.”
(This is part of a list that includes more areas, and is in the process of growing ever larger, which can be found on the top menu, or by clicking here.)