Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lifeboat, what is this supposed to teach?

So I ran into a reference to an exercise that's taught in schools called "lifeboat". I'm rather unclear what this is supposed to teach.  I believe the idea is to explicate how values lead to morals, but if someone has used this exercise and would like to weigh in I'd love to hear.

The exercise is below


Values Clarification Exercise

The Queen Elizabeth III, a major ocean liner, left the coast of England two days ago.  The ship is on its way to New York.  There is an international passenger list and the majority of the people have just entered the dining room for lunch.  All of a sudden there is a major explosion in the engine room.  Life boats are released and the passengers start to board them.  The ship is slowly sinking and there remains only one more lifeboat.  It holds six people, but there are ten people on deck.  Here is the list of ten people:

1. African-American activist, second-year medical student
2. Rabbi, 54 years old
3. Swedish bio-chemist
4. Hollywood actress-singer-dancer
5. Arab diplomat
6. Japanese accountant, 31 years old
7. his wife, six months pregnant
8. Brazilian athlete-all sports
9. Hispanic poet, 42 years old
10. CIA agent with interpreting skills

The task for your group is to decide which six people will board the last lifeboat and which four will down with the queen Elizabeth III.  You will have ten minutes to decide.  Which four will you eliminate?  Why?


Anonymous said...

What grade level is this taught at? It would be fairly useless for, say, high schoolers, but obviously the lesson is "sometimes your personal values may be trumped by practical considerations" (i.e. the sports star and the religious figure may not actually have any practical value whatsoever), and it isn't necessarily a bad thing to try and get that message across to kids.

Sharon Fargo said...

My son, who has Asperger's, had to answer this question as part of a gifted class. He was 10 or 11 at the time and got VERY upset. He had to leave the room. I'm still annoyed at his teacher for doing this exercise with young.

Sharon Fargo said...

That should say "young kids".

CD-Host said...


Any idea what he was supposed to learn from this exercise? 10-11 seems young for moral philosophy, but I've heard middle school is typical for this.

Tim H said...

Seems like kind of a no-brainer to me.
Get rid of:
1. The 2nd yr med student, who is probably AA and will cause a great deal of harm to people later on.
2. The Rabbi, who is a practitioner of the immoral ethical dualism known as Talmud.
3. The Hollywood bimbette, who is contributing to the corruption of the youth.
4. The CIA man, who is a terrorist and murderer with legal cover.

Dr Seus said...

This not a teaching exercise. This exercise is for assessing "team" dynamics and identify team leaders and followers. No correct moral values stressed except that the group is more valuable then the individual. Many colleges expose incomming freshmen classes to this exercise and corporate bodies utlize this model to develop group espirit-de-corp and introduce Deming principles of management.

CD-Host said...

Dr Seus --

Interesting. Could you provide more detail? I can see how watching who gets to decide exposes team dynamics already in place. I don't understand how it creates a connection. Please educate us, you are the first person to know what they are trying to accomplish.

Dr Seus said...

The science of group dynamics is very broad and the “testees” who choose to utilize a “tool” like the “life boat” on the “testers” do so to characterize individuals within groups and to learn how to manipulate both groups and individuals . In essence the “testers” play God and the “testees” are the proverbial “rats in a maze”. The objectives of the test and its ultimate goal is frequently not altruistic and is a tool used by those motivated to change orthodoxy, orthopraxy and the orthopathos. The science and its application have existed since the dawn of man and you can see in history those who understood its principles.

Dr Seus said...

I'm sorry the terms "tester" and "testee" were transposed. I should have renamed the "testees" as "testes" for obvious reasons.