Ethics and Values
16G course at the UAEM
16G course at the UAEM

By Cristina M. G. García Rendón Arteaga, March 2015

I am a full time lecturer at UAEM in the State of Mexico, Mexico. I have a PhD in Humanities with a speciality in Ethics. One of my interests is to teach in a way that encourages social responsibility. I am fortunate to be a friend of Martha Cabral, a senior 16 Guidelines facilitator in Mexico, with whom I shared my wishes to develop a course on ethics and values that would allow students to improve themselves, not just learn theories. And that is when she invited me along to participate in a 16G Level 1 workshop in 2011. To date I have also participated in a 16G Level 2 workshop, in 2014.

After participating in the Level 1 workshop I realised the need to incorporate something like this into the university’s offering, and so I decided to propose a new class on the subject of Ethics and Values to the Language Faculty where I teach. The response to my proposal was positive, and the new unit on Ethics and Values has its basis in the idea that ethics refers to the construction of the êthos, the original meaning in Greek being the ‘modal structure of inhabiting the world’; in the context of this the work on the 16 Guidelines/Actitudes plays an important role.

From Aristotle to the Guidelines

The Ethics and Values class is divided in two parts. The first part of the course includes various ethical models from across a wide spectrum to encourage reflection and allow students to gain a solid understanding of the various schools of thought on the matter. This also allows the students to put any specific cultural practices into a wider context, in this way avoiding an ethnocentric approach.

The content for this part includes both the study of ethics from a Western perspective (Aristotle, Kant and Ricoeur) as well as from an Eastern perspective (Hindu and Buddhist), and a Latin-American viewpoint (Ethics of Liberation). As part of the application of ethics, students contemplate subjects such as interculturality, non-violence, natural rights and social responsibility.

The second part of the course uses the 16 Guidelines for Life as a basis for the content. This programme allows for reflection on the way we think, act, relate and find meaning. The Guidelines themselves are: humility, patience, contentment, delight, kindness, honesty, generosity, right speech, respect, forgiveness, gratitude, loyalty, aspiration, principles, service and courage. We find it particularly important to emphasize the Guidelines of respect, right speech, contentment and humility to encourage more compassionate and honest relationships.

The work with the Guidelines encompasses both the intellectual conceptualization, examples of people who live in a way that encompasses the Guidelines (role models), as well as the challenge of ‘living’ the Guidelines in a conscious way throughout the week. Each week students write a short report on their experiences embodying the guidelines consciously through the challenges proposed in the 16 Guidelines book.

Student feedback

At the end of last semester I asked students to give me their thoughts on the course, and some of their comments included:

“Each session left us with new learning and helped us become better people.”

“What I enjoyed most was the explanation about the16 Guidelines.”

“I learnt that we are not independent; we depend on others to survive.”

“It was a good experience - I learnt a lot, for example to be more tolerant, to understand other people before judging them etc.”

“Unfortunately we have the notion that everything belongs to us, rather than understanding that we are just one tiny aspect of the world, and hence we need mutual respect and harmony towards others.”

I can conclude that education, both within the family and institutional settings, should go further than the passing on of information. Education has the duty to promote the learning of values and attitudes needed to develop harmonious, respectful and responsible relationships with others.