I teach a variety of courses to 7th and 8th grade special education students. Currently, I teach a unit on the U.S. Constitution concentrating on the Bill of Rights. The students research five basic questions. What is the Constitution? What is the Bill of Rights? What is an amendment? What is a law? Who writes the law and who enforce the law? The final product is a paper and an oral presentation.
With this unit I will continue this project focusing on medicine, ethics and law, as it deals with the "right to die" issue. I will use the information covered in the seminar to create a packet with a variety of specific issues to introduce to the class. We will review the facts of each issue, while leaving out my personal opinions. This will give the students the opportunity to develop their own views and voice their opinions. The students will choose a specific issue that they will research. They will be required to bring out all the aspects of the issue that relate to medicine, ethics and law. They will choose a case from a list that represents their chosen issue.
The students will have to make an oral presentation of their findings to the class. I will encourage the students to focus on the facts of the cases before adding their personal opinion. The students overall behavior, attitude and maturity during this unit will determine if the unit will be extended to include class debates.
Because of the sensitive nature of this unit I recommend that the school's social worker or counselor be consulted to introduce the unit. I plan to work with the social worker in depth until the completion of the unit. It is likely that emotions will vary and even awaken if students have experienced the loss of close family member(s) or friend(s). Many may worry about creating grief for students, it will not create it but may give them the opportunity to grieve appropriately. The social worker will be essential to help students work through their emotions. Students should be encouraged to discuss personal experiences instead of thinking about it and keeping feelings hid inside to grow.
The concept of a person's "right to die" has become very visible and a widespread social concern. Advance medicine and it's capabilities have grown endless in recent years. People are able to live longer with the assistance of medical discoveries. Once upon a time, nature alone determined when life would end. Now, the combination of medicine, doctors, families and sometimes the court makes this important decision. How long a person live and how they live has been a question that many disagree on, for many reasons. The quality of a person's life is very major. The major problem is not only the right to die but, who has the right to decide?