Promoting Ethical Literacy in Youth

I am currently in New Orleans for the American Library Association Annual Conference and Exhibition, where I will be speaking on the program “Promoting Ethical Literacy in Youth: How Librarians Can Partner with Parents and Teachers”, hosted by the ALA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the Office of Intellectual Freedom. I am lucky to be paired with Dr. Nancy Zimmerman, an expert in information ethics from the University of South Carolina.

My contribution to the discussion focuses on identifying some of the unique ethical dilemmas that youth face in their information-based environments, and how some of our current literacy standards help address some of those issues. More importantly, I suggest four new strategies to help achieve ethical literacy in youth:

  • Talking and listening to youth
    • Discover their unique perspectives on privacy, property, information sharing & exchange
    • Need to shape ethical lessons & examples accordingly
  • Ensure ethics are integrated into all literacy-related educational activities
    • Specifically address ethical questions related to each learning outcome
    • Add ethical components to computer literacy courses, information literacy sessions, special projects
  • Reach youth through information technology
    • Engage the technology, don’t build fear of it
    • Create ways to teach ethics through the active use of Facebook, Wikipedia
  • Turn all information interactions into “ethical teaching moments”
    • Game nights could include discussion of cheating
    • YouTube video contests could address copyright
    • Searching Google can present lessons on bias, free speech, censorship

The slides framing my contribution can be accessed below. I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

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