Monday, August 01, 2005
The value of a life
I love my Year 11 English class! At the moment we are analysing the persuasive language devices used in newspaper articles, specifically letters to the editor, editorials and opinion columns. An article we looked at by Michael Read in The Age “My abortion would have spared my mother” included the comment that “it would have been better for her had she aborted me. After all, my life then would never have been, and logically, I could not have regretted not living it.” The students could see that this was persuasive. I have heard a similar comment from other young people as well. But I disagreed. I wanted to argue that all human life had value. This led to a lively discussion about what the value of human life is. A letter the following day, which the class also analysed, commented that it was good that Read had been born as he was so compassionate. At the end one of the students commented that she was sorry that she had questioned my beliefs. I felt that both the students and I had been engaged during the lesson, that they had learnt about an aspect of persuasive language and that, in articulating their beliefs and hearing the beliefs of others, the students would have gone away with something of value to think about. The comment at the end showed that compassion was not lacking, whether or not the students believe in an abstract concept of a hypothetical life.