A Moral Issues Curriculum for High School Youth (Revised Edition)
Thinking the Web is a 27-Session curriculum designed for Unitarian Universalist high school religious education classes (9th to 12th grades).
Thinking the Web helps youth discuss complex legal issues that have broad moral implications both historically and in today’s society, especially focusing on the Unitarian Universalist perspective articulated in resolutions passed at annual General Assemblies. Thinking the Web also helps youth develop and enhance their techniques of systematic thinking through the application of critical and creative thinking strategies as applied to these discussions.
Students discuss medical issues (Abortion, Right to Die with Dignity, and Drug Legalization), societal issues (Pornography, Capital Punishment, Youth Violence,and Gun Control), and global issues (Weapons of Mass Destruction, Torture, and Peacemaking versus Just War). Throughout the curriculum, students are exposed to a range of systematic thinking skills, including how to structure discourse on moral issues, evaluating arguments, creating ideas and hypotheses, and understanding the consequences of applying one’s ideas. For example, specific Sessions help students learn how to use tools that facilitate group discussion and to produce and prioritize ideas. Other Sessions deal with identifying fallacies in arguments, interpreting evidence, and examining unstated assumptions.
UNIT ONE – Orientation to Systematic Thinking Dispositions
Session 1 – Basics of Group Dynamics
Session 2 – Introduction to Systematic Thinking Dispositions
Session 3 – Advanced Systematic Thinking Dispositions
Special Session A – Balancing Thinking Dispositions
Session 4 – Creativity and Intuition
UNIT TWO – Medical Issues: Our Rights as Individuals
Session 5 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Abortion
Session 6 – Investigating Points of View on Abortion
Session 7 – Evaluating the UUA Position on Abortion
Special Session B – The UUA Process of Creating Social Justice Statements
Session 8 – Exploring and Expressing Views on the Right to Die
Session 9 – Investigating Points of View on the Right to Die
Session 10 – Evaluating the UUA Position on the Right to Die
Session 11 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Drug Legalization
Session 12 – Investigating Points of View on Drug Legalization
Session 13 – Evaluating the UUA Position on Drug Legalization
UNIT THREE – Criminal Justice Issues: Our Rights as Citizens
Special Session C – Example of Evaluating Arguments – Pornography
Session 14 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Capital Punishment
Session 15 – Investigating Points of View on Capital Punishment
Session 16 – Evaluating the UUA Position on Capital Punishment
Session 17 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Gun Control
Special Session D – Example of Evaluating Persuasion – Youth Violence
Session 18 – Investigating Points of View on Gun Control
UNIT FOUR – Global Issues: Our Rights as Human Beings
Session 19 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Weapons of Mass Destruction
Session 20 – Evaluating the UUA Position on Weapons of Mass Destruction
Special Session E – Example of Personal Involvement – Torture
Session 21 – Exploring and Expressing Views on Peacemaking Versus Just War
Session 22 – Evaluating the UUA Position on Peacemaking Versus Just War
Youth enjoy an intellectual challenge, so long as it does not replicate the school experience they face throughout the week. Thinking the Web focuses on issues rarely covered in school curricula and encourages youth to challenge their assumptions and process new ideas. The classroom technique most used is facilitated discussion prompted by brainstorming Sessions and questions to challenge thinking processes. Participants are empowered to take discussions where they lead.
Youth have the ability, the desire, and the scholastic background to discuss complicated problems facing society that have implications on their own personal philosophies and their future. Thinking the Web assumes that it is the responsibility of our churches to help youth develop into adult Unitarian Universalists by expanding their intellectual horizons and helping them build sound minds. Each Session encourages youth to critically examine the ethical positions of society, the positions of the UUA as articulated in General Assembly resolutions, and their own views.