The Ethics Club is open to students in Years 8 to 10 and immerses boys in complex ethical concepts through collaborative dialogue. Earlier this year the club considered topics such as love, consequences and what we do when no one is watching.
So, what do you do when no one is watching? We would all like to think that we would put our heads down and work away, no matter if anyone’s there. But a lot of people would do whatever they can that isn’t work. The core principle that is behind this is integrity.
Now, the Cambridge dictionary defines this as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change. While this is a very robotic definition, there is a certain amount of truth behind it. We can use these foundations and extend them. We feel that true integrity is the core ideal of not just showing integrity while people are watching, but also while no one is watching or when there is no chance of being caught, when there is no real incentive. This is because you are not just performing this action for the benefits you may reap, but out of your own ‘strong moral principles’. When we’re next in a high-pressure situation, we all need to have a bit of integrity and remain guided by our moral principles.
In the context of Newington, integrity is demonstrated in a multitude of ways. The bullying example is a common one: do you choose to be a bystander and merely watch, or do you choose to be the upstander and step in to help the victim? The most common choice at Newington is the latter, with the vast majority of students choosing to help if they see someone being bullied, rather than standing around and doing nothing.
In the Newington Wyvern model, integrity is included under the ‘Great Hearts’ category. This says a lot about how integrity is represented at the College. It is not a grand concept that students dismiss as ‘stupid’ or ‘boring’. It is a status which embodies someone with a Great Heart, someone who is kind and compassionate towards everyone, no matter who they are or what they stand for. True Newingtonians treat all people equally, as human beings, regardless of their cultural background, skin tone, beliefs or gender .
Integrity is not acting nice when a teacher is close just to get in their good books. Integrity is doing the right thing even when others are mucking about. Integrity is not making the sexist remark when someone else is, and integrity is doing the little things that no one notices that can make a difference to someone’s life. These little things are what makes a truly Great Heart and are something that all people, not just us Newingtonians, should strive to achieve in their lives.
James Fulton and Alexander Ross on behalf of the Newington Ethics Club
This article first appeared in Newington’s 2021 Autumn edition of NEWS magazine.