Sydney Carton – A tale of moral bankruptcy and redemption

This is a multi-modal project embedding video, images and charts to demonstrate potential assignment options.

The character Sydney Carton in Charles’ Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities—much like Dickens’ novel itself—is a study in opposites. Dissolute, drunken wretch who cares for no man on one hand; Steadfast, loyal friend who makes great sacrifices to uphold moral beliefs and to support those he loves best on the other. The novel and the character are studies in ethics and justice and raise some important questions: Can a man who is morally bankrupt be redeemed by a single act? And who is the real Sydney Carton?

Set in 18th century France during the revolution, a six-minute summary of this complex book can be seen below.

The pertinent facts related to Sydney Carter are as follows. He is an law associate and early on in the novel we meet him when he is asked to stand up in a court to demonstrate that he bears a striking resemblance to the accused. As a result, the accused—a French aristocrat named Charles Darnay—is found innocent. The story then follows Darnay’s involvement with a young lady names Lucy who he marries, and Carton’s journey of drinking and despair as he loves Lucy from afar. It is impossible to like the character of Carton. He plays the worst version of himself at all times, cynical and depressed even when he is trying to be sociable. That he loves Lucy however we can have no doubt. At the end of the novel, the revolution in France is in full swing, and Charles Darnay has been imprisoned and sentenced to the guillotine. Carton finds a way to smuggle Lucy and her family out of France, and is able to get into the Bastille to take Darnay’s place in prison, and ultimately on the guillotine.

What are the ethical considerations here?

Sydney Carton on the Scaffold by Harry Furniss (1910)

Carton is intriguing because of the contrasting ethical approaches he takes to his life. At first glance, he appears to have a teleological outlook: he doesn’t seem to care what he does or how he acts, and instead the consequences of his actions are important – he supports the outcome desired for the defense by demonstrating that the witness who identified Darnay as a traitor might be mistaken; he gives his life so that the outcome for Lucy and Darnay and their family can be positive. At the same time however, this doesn’t right entirely true. After all, one could argue that Carton was only doing his duty by standing up in court to show a witness was unreliable, he was only doing his perceived duty to the family he loved by finding a way for them to go free and live happily ever after. Looked at this way, Darnay had more of a deontological approach.

Infographic (if the embed feature is not working, try linking to it here)

There’s more. From Kant’s perspective, it could be argued that Carton was considering his own best interests by taking Darnay’s place on the guillotine. After all, it was unlikely that Lucy would ever repay his affection or that he would ever  be more to her if he lived and Darnay died. By sacrificing himself, he would live on in Lucy’s memory and have her eternal gratitude. According to Kant, the fact that he would benefit from this action-as far fetched as that might seem to a rational being-is enough for his action to be considered suspect and less than ethical.

Aristotle’s virtue ethics also come into play. Carton has clearly identified his own values, and has prioritized them. His moral values, whilst few, are put ahead of his non-moral values at the end of this story.

Sydney Carton is a complex character. One question that has recurred for me is can a man who is morally bankrupt be redeemed by a single act? I think that for Sydney Carton, the answer is yes. I address that and a couple of other thoughts in the video below (Draft Version…needs Tweaking).

So who is the real Sydney Carton? He’s maybe the perfect ethical figure: A tormented soul who finds redemption doing what he considers to be his duty, and that also results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Duty and consequences. A tale of two ethical systems


Ready for Fall 2019

The hallways gleam. Classrooms are freshly painted. Updated colour accents in SLC red have been added on the stairwell and outside  (the detail…painting a flower box…I noticed!). Everything is clean and shiny and ready for students. 

Orientation day is next Tuesday, and I’m excited to meet everyone. I’ll be with Pre-Health and General Arts and Sciences for the day, but am definitely popping over to visit with Police Foundations students too. One of the things I love about being in communications is the interdisciplinary nature of it.

New to me this year is the Active Learning Space where I’ll be teaching Ethics for Law Enforcement. I’ve been annoyingly pushing for a collaborative classroom for a number of years now, even managing one year to get a class designated to be set up in groups instead of rows, and I bought in homemade white boards (which to be honest were subpar) but it was a makeshift solution, and nothing compared to this new space. I’m so excited to be teaching in it and have a fabulous group of colleagues piloting the space with me this semester, so we have some great ideas and teamwork going. Stay tuned. 

I’m working on a new welcome video. That’s coming soon. I did not update my blog as much as I intended over the summer. I still have to do that. It’s feeling outmoded and it’s time to hit refresh. I’m going to put that on my Fall to do list… but without pressure. 

Hers to Fall 2019. It’s going to be great. 

Build a longer table (of collaboration) 

I’m a believer when it comes to collaboration. It’s one of the reasons I actively seek collaborative experiences such as ExtendmOOC. 

A year or so ago, I completed the image below as part of an early round of the Collaborator module. I was thinking of who would be at my table from a work perspective.

To be honest, it was one of the first things I did with Ontario Extend and I loved it in part because of the metaphor of the table. A table is where you break bread together with people you share values with, it’s where discussion happens, and where ideas generate and blossom. It’s where you get pushback (hopefully civil!) that allows you – if you’re open to it – to sharpen your understanding and hone your own thinking for continuous improvement. 

Our house, with three teens, is an open door. Their friends revolve in and out all the time and there’s always food, always conversation. A favourite story is my husband asking a youth which of our teens he was visiting. None of them, was his reply. He was the guest of a guest. When asked why he was at the table, he responded, well, you said time to eat, so here I am. So we sit and share and talk and laugh. And hopefully everyone gets something out of the evening. We had so many guests that my father in law – who made our original old pine table – made us an extension. I’m of the mind that we should always be building a longer table. 

The same is true metaphorically. My work table is about open pedagogy, empathy, compassion. Also about fairness, equity, student choice. It’s about assessment practIces, active learning, creative classrooms. It’s about inclusivity, diversity, belonging. All this…and so much more. I’m learning every day. Sharing every day. 

All of this begins in a place where you feel welcome and safe. Come on in. Have a seat. 

Curation: Module 3 application #ExtendmOOC

Starting with the Requirements:

  1. Defined content curation.
  2. Explored Creative Commons Licenses and compared them to Copyright.
  3. Used Boolean operators and limiters to refine searches.
  4. Explored repositories to curate content that meet specific learning goals.
  5. Used the CRAAP test to evaluate OER.
  6. Reflected on using OER when designing, developing and revising courses or workshops

Evidence as below: 

1. Screenshot of post

2. Screenshot of post

3. I always use Boolean Operators to search images and find sources….the advantages of a focused search are that you get superior results. For this image, I used spring and person, but refined it to include umbrella and colour. I also then used not to exclude nature because I wanted a very specific look. 

4. Loved this activity. Copy of the post I made below.

Love and have used their resources and encouraged fellow faculty to as well.

Feel that could be a fantastic resource for our EFL students and will share it today with our coordinators

Personally really enjoyed and am thinking I could use some of this for an ethics class… hmmm. Things to consider.

And finally…. I posted about this but what fun. has so much to explore. 

And some screenshots from the posts I added to Padlet.

5. In addition to CRAAP, I also reviewed other credibility tests including RADAR and this OER on credibility that I use  in class.

6. This is my reflection. 

What drew me to OER in the first place was seeing slides shows and notes for plenaries and workshops that I couldn’t attend made freely available by educators. I thought it both brilliant and so obvious that we as educators should always be doing that…sharing our work and ideas. That was years ago, and nothing I have seen since has changed my mind. Before e-campus Ontario and I were acquainted, I was busy inventing my own versions of open resources, avoiding textbooks, having students co-create their own texts and resources, and sharing widely (which to me is the whole point…to share and remix).

Today I think of OER as a habit. I encourage students to create for class and share their ideas publicly. The concept of ownership is shifting (Uber, tool libraries) and I think we are seeing that same shift in academia. It’s not about ownership so much as it is about collaboration and the free sharing of ideas for mutual benefit. I want students to build off each other. I want to build off others. And I want to provide others an opportunity to build off my ideas, recasting and improving them. 

For one of the extend extras, I made this which sums up what I think OER and citation represents: Turtles all the way down. We are all standing on each other’s shoulders…that’s how we grow taller.

Technologist – Application for Module 2 Ontario ExtendmOOC

The criteria for this are as follows:

  1. Reflecting on their digital literacy for teaching.
  2. Identifying of a learner challenge.
  3. Mind-mapping and selecting an educational technology to help address this challenge.
  4. Developing, obtaining feedback and refining a prototype of a technology creation.
  5. Connecting the technology to their curriculum.
  6. Sharing their technology creation.
  7. Reflecting on the design thinking approach used to create a technology-enabled solution for a learning challenge.

I have to admit I struggled with this module. Once I found the right challenge to address and threw myself into it, it went a bit easier, but I still feel somewhat dissatisfied. 

After finishing…although to be fair I have yet to implement the tech creation I identified…I realized that I’d been trying too hard, and believe that actually I had already completed this module in my own way before the module released. 

So below are two things: first, my official application based on what I did in this module. And secondly, a recap and link to a project I just finished that actually does meet most or all of the criteria. I leave it to the Badge Credential folk to decide if it is worthy.

Official Application

1. Link to reflection 

2-6 Learner Challenge – international students and paraphrasing/citation. I chose to use the app Paper to go through the identification of the challenge, the mind mapping process, the ideation. I uploaded the app to my blog and you can see it all here…a screenshot is below. 

I also participated in a number of the discussion boards eg: Get ‘Em Moving is one of my contributions to someone else’s issue below.

To be honest, I found some of the sidebar activities confusing . I looked at both the Sections Model and the Technology Evaluation Rubric, and while both were interesting, I find it a little overwhelming to use. I have to put some more thought into this, but I tend to try things and then reflect, and my current reflection tends to be more holistic. 

I did enjoy the forums, reading and responding to some of the other extenders’ ideas and sharing their triumphs. 

Really like the Design Thinking Feedback Grid…and will definitely use it. 

7. This is my reflection. My solution was to go old school to best serve the needs of international students, but to also offer tech support. One flaw in all if this is that I haven’t yet had time to create this tech… it’s more a spring project, and to be honest, I’m usually kept to busy to dedicate time to this kind of project.

But the process got me thinking. And I realized that I’d already actually gone through this process on my own time in January. So I offer this as part of my unofficial application.

Student Voice Project …for consideration as evidence for Technologist Badge

The post is here. It includes a link to the podcast we just finished too. But let me quickly reiterate why this project fits using the  criteria above. 

Reflecting on their digital literacy for teaching.

  • I reflect on digital literacy all the time. I have no evidence, except Twitter and this blog.

Identifying of a learner challenge.

  • I teach communications courses to a mix of students, and wanted a way to approach cultural diversity and inclusivity while also meeting communications objectives, and without making students do a lot of writing the first few weeks (as writing can be intimidating)

Mind-mapping and selecting an educational technology to help address this challenge.

  • I decided to have our communications project be discussion followed by the development of a podcast so student voices could be heard 

Developing, obtaining feedback and refining a prototype of a technology creation.

  • To be honest, I didn’t do much of this. I got some help from podcasters, and threw myself into self learning based on my own research. This might be a flaw in my personality. I’m not sure. 

Connecting the technology to their curriculum.

  • This part was easy. The planning and research allowed students to integrate communications skills every class, and the final project fits the course objectives around multi-modal communications. 

Sharing their technology creation.

  • See link in the original post about this project.

Reflecting on the design thinking approach used to create a technology-enabled solution for a learning challenge.

  • Again, I do reflect fairly consistently. For this podcast project, I also had students reflect on the four week process. 

Final Thoughts on a Sunday Morning.

This is a really long post. I suspect this hints at my general state of mind with this module, not really quite sure if I was hitting the right notes or not. I like technology, and am often pioneering the use of it in my classroom. I do it thoughtfully,  not wanting tech for tech’s sake, but I don’t carefully analyze it ahead of time. I suppose I use things I’m familiar with (at least a little), and I’m willing to take risks, explaining that (and thus modelling it) for students. It works for me so far, but based on my work in this module, I’m going to look at my processes with a little more deliberation. 

And even saying that, I realize why I operate the way I do: it all comes down to time. There never seems to be enough. It’s taken me days just to finish this post. 

Thanks again for the opportunity to apply for this Technologist badge, 

Podcast: A creative exploration of diversity 

I have two classes of 1st semester communications students. Multiple programs, diverse backgrounds. Many international students. It’s not the first time I’ve had this mix and I was keen to find a way to better integrate students so they were less culturally isolated. I also used to teach a cultural communications course and was interested in the idea of promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity among the student body. But how?

We started by introducing ourselves and the meanings of our names. I put students into groups and made them learn not only how to pronounce each other’s names but to hear and understand the stories behind each person’s name. This personalized the activity. Gradually, barriers lowered. 

Then we read some articles on names including this one from Elamin Abdelmahmoud (Twitter: @elamin88)   and this CBC article. ‪We used these to read, analyze, find supporting quotes, write and respond – typical communications class material. And as students got comfortable with each other we started connecting ideas and having more in depth discussions. Students developed themes and explored them in conversations and discussions with each other.‬

‪This project gave us an opportunity to talk about audience and the difference between communicating privately and publicly. And how to share our voices authentically. ‬

Right about then, I explained we would create a podcast. Student led. Student created. 

I’d spent time contemplating this. It seemed an ideal method of communicating our thoughts in a way that was more inclusive. Students nervous about writing got engaged in the process, and although we drafted outlines and introductions, there was not the same level of fear around the writing. Students worked collaboratively to storyboard around themes and essential questions that the students themselves developed themselves from their research. 

We then spent class time recording (voice memo), interviewing, and producing a series of combined files . And I spent ohhhh, way more time editing than I actually had (I used to be a book editor… you’d think I’d know that editing ALWAYS takes longer than you expect!)

Finally….a podcast. You can listen to it here.  

Once produced, we listened and debriefed. This was a valuable conversation because in addition to a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of different mediums for communication, listening to our conversation in replay allowed us to talk about word choices we had made (“foreign” versus “international” student for example…) and gave us more points to discuss: What did we say that came out wrong? How well did our intended message relay? What were the unintended consequences? 

Ultimately, the podcast circled around the idea of respect. We came back to that a few times. 

More importantly though, students learned about each other and realized we all have more in common than perhaps we realize. 

Design Thinking

Below is a design thinking process I went through with students to help solve an issue they are facing. This is part of #extendMOOC Technologist module. We went old school for our solution but are looking to support it with student-created video. 

Some hiccups uploading Paper design process to WordPress. 

◦ International students struggling with paraphrasing and citation
• “Can’t do it” – Manpreet
• “Confusing” – Harmandeep
• “When do I use inverted commas?” – Navjot
• “I used a quote so why is it wrong?” – Biprendeep
• “I don’t want to plagiarize” -Varindar
◦ Confer with colleagues
• Same patterns – deeper than misunderstanding.
• Holding students back from successful completion of a program due to communications requirement
• Concern from colleagues about simplifying curriculum meaning a less robust course that does not achieve learning objectives

◦ What if students were provided with a template they could follow?
◦ How might this activity be re-imagined with tech support as a first step in understanding?

◦ Research shows we need to teach paraphrasing , quoting and citation differently to international ESL students
◦ How does this happen in an integrated classroom?
◦ Many international students do not have the tech they require (using phones instead of laptops, etc.)
◦ Maybe we need to go old school but leverage tech as well?

Connect – I flipped connect and prototype. I felt it best to weigh in with students to get their input before moving forward. I pulled together a focus group and asked some questions:
◦ What do you need?
◦ How would you prefer to be helped?
◦ What would make this easier for you?
◦ How can I support you?

From these discussions, I went back to Define (redefine) and Ideate .
◦ Changes- important to note that reading the articles to identify evidence is part of the struggle

◦ Old school – this is what this group of international students prefer
• Examples and practice sheets with sample activities
• Formula… writing a paper with evidence 1) make a point; 2) add evidence (quotes only) starting with ‘According to…’ + Quote + Citation; 3) Find a corroborating Quote + Citation; 4) provide explanation
• Above document co-created by students and faculty
• Set up additional practice session using simplified article excerpts
◦ Tech Support Project
• Could there be a video made in Hindi to support students?
• Volunteer from stronger students to help develop this with professor support
• Storyboarding for video to take place after break with development and video creation to satisfy part of curriculum
* will return to connect with students and repeat process as required as this gets fine tuned.

Made with Paper /