Hackworth Fellow Considers Classroom Ethics
Perla Luna looks into resource allocation and the application of ethics in primary schools
By Julia MacIntyre '21
While Perla Luna ‘19 (Sociology and English) has known she wanted to be a teacher since the third grade, she has only recently begun considering ethical thinking in the classroom through her work as a Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Working with Yael Kidron, director of character education at Markkula, Luna has learned that character ethics is about more than criticizing the way students think, but about “using subjects as a way of teaching ethical thinking and [promoting the consideration of] ethical dilemmas” in order to introduce students to the idea of critical thinking.
The emphasis on character education has enhanced Luna’s goals as a future educator. As the Editor in Chief of The Santa Clara, SCU’s campus newspaper since 1922, Luna recognizes the discrepancies that exist in the analysis of ethics, saying, “Ethics are easier to identify in journalism than they are in education. In education you don’t immediately see how ethics comes into play in the way a teacher acts in a classroom.”
As a Hackworth Fellow, Luna is looking specifically at the ethics of providing resources to primary schools, as she notes a wide distrust among schools looking to partner with universities. Luna believes that, typically, after a primary school agrees to a partnership, the university will “provide theoretical directions with key vocabulary words” regarding improvement, but, in practice, these recommendations are difficult for teachers in low income communities to adapt to fit the realities of the classroom.
Through the fellowship, Luna has been working to shift the goals of the Character Education Department at Markkula from focusing on helping local teachers with curriculum and instruction to providing more guidance and support to local schools in the application of ethics in education.
Being at a Jesuit institution, we are encouraged to see the ethical dilemmas around us. There is so much to learn about ethics and its role in society. Education shapes how students think about what they’re doing in their lives and character education can shape student’s lives.
After graduation, Luna plans to earn her Master’s in Education and teaching credentials at Stanford University.