Insightful Learning

Socrates holds before us the keys to a meaningful and purposeful life by reminding us to “Know Thyself” and “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The following exercise is based on the 12 steps of insightful learning of oneself which is a disciplined process of inquiry, reflection, insight, and judgment about a situation/dilemma before making a decision be it ethical or not.  It is a process of inner critical thinking and reflective judgment that gives your students the opportunity to understand their thoughts and to discover their integrity by balancing their human emotions with their intellect and reason.

Each student is given one of the 12 following stages below for developing his or her reflective judgment; by means of group discussion, the students are to rank these stages in a logical, progressive order by standing in line giving evidence of what is the logical, progressive development of one’s self understanding.  In a broader context, one will discover in one’s own intelligence, reasonableness, and responsibility the foundation of every kind of inquiry no matter what program or course the student is engaged in.  Thus, these stages become the basic pattern of mental processes which underpin methodical investigation in every course or program.  There is no substitute for the principles of critical and creative thinking.

In your own process of “Insightful Learning”– examine and rank the following 12 stages so as to own your own disciplined process of reflective judgment.

A note for the instructor: Make sure you eliminate the number before each stage, and each one is given one of these 12 stages to be ranked according to the logical progression of becoming more ethically virtuous. When the students have completed the exercise, have each group explain its logical order to the class; and then share the developmental responses below for a further discussion.

The Ethics 12 Steps – rank the following according to a logical progression or sequence of becoming more of an insightful ethical learner.

  1. Manage the initial emotional reaction – during an ethical crisis, you may experience a variety of emotional feelings that will diminish your ability to consciously exercise your free will.
  2. Identify the real ethical issues – often decisions and judgments are made without resolving the true underlying ethical dilemma.
  3. Gather relevant facts – do not assume you have all the pertinent facts necessary for a wise decision.
  4. Consider the law – determine if there are any legal requirements or authorities that govern the decision.
  5. Ask others for input – do not hesitate others for input or advice.
  6. Consider your ethical belief system – review your guiding ethical principles that you consider are important to you.
  7. Consider your core ethical values – recall and consider your core ethical values.
  8. Make a decision – you have a free will and the capacity to choose your path.
  9. Let your decision ripen – do not act immediately on your decision.
  10. Ratify or change your decision – once you have the opportunity to reconsider your decision, you should ratify it or change it.
  11. Announce the decision – share with others about your decision and your intended course of action.
  12. Act on the decision – implement your decision and behave in accordance with the principles that guided it.


(an adaptation from Ethical Virtuosity by Louie V. Larimer, J.D., pp. 133-137)

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