TYS Group10
Adam Litman
Kyle Oliver

The Discussion

We have been hired by an NGO (non-governmental organization) called the Organization of Truth, Beauty and Ethics. The organization is concerned about an unfortunate tribe in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. The organization is most interested in allowing the tribe to flourish as a community of beauty, truth, and ethical behaviour. The tribe has had no contact with the outside world, but will, in the next 3 to 5 years, be confronted by one of a number of Brazilian companies that will want to negotiate with them to take over the bulk of their hunting grounds and remove the forests of hardwoods to be used to build expensive furniture for rich American families in the United States. The tribe wars frequently with neighbouring tribes, and practices cannibalism when it comes to their enemies. They also practice infanticide when crops don't turn out so well. Their grasp of art only extends to fertility symbols - small chiseled representations of pregnant women. Their only music is battle drumming to get the youth angry enough to go out and kill other tribes. Their weaponry consists of bows and arrows and spears.
The organization wants us to go in and set up a small school for children from age 4 to 16. There is no electricity and batteries are too heavy for the trek in - a five-day hike. We can carry only one map (other than the one you have to show you the way there). We can only manage three pieces of art. And we can only carry in a small musical instrument and two works of literature.

The Organization of Truth, Beauty and Ethics

To properly answer the difficult questions raised in this project one must first understand the Organization of Truth, Beauty and Ethics and what ideals these three ideas represent. Afterall; truth, beauty and ethics are not universally accepted ideas and mean different things in different societies and different places around the world. We believe that the Organization of Truth, Beauty and Ethics mirrors many of the views that are present in Western society. Democracy, the value of life, the importance of equality and the beauty of nature and originality are all commonly accepted views amidst our society. Truth represents our Western perception of reality, beauty represents artwork and literature that is appreciated in the Western world and ethics reflects our legal code and the general beliefs and morals of our society. However even with this said, these are subjective ideas and there is still a lot left to interpretation. It is ultimately left up to us to decide what Truth, Beauty and Ethics really mean. For me, truth means honesty and that reality is based on what we perceive, experience, but is also based on the foundations of logic. Beauty is something that I believe to be “in the eye of the beholder” and it is up to us to allow the natives to experience a wide range of things that different types of people consider beautiful and ultimately let them decide for themselves what beauty means to them. Ethics is a difficult and sometimes very grey area, however we believe in the moral theory of Act Utilitarianism over such theories like Moral Subjectivism (personal beliefs), Cultural Relativism (beliefs of a group/culture), Moral Egoism (preserving self interest) or Moral Kantianism (beliefs of law and obligation) and Moral Nihilism (morality does not exist). Act Utilitarianism is the belief that the moral action is the action that results in the greatest amount of long term happiness for the greatest number of people (with death being the ultimate form of unhappiness). We believe in Act Utilitarianism because it seems the most logical and appropriate moral theory that is conducive with our set of beliefs and doesn’t include as much bias as the other theories. The following paragraphs will be written and influenced by the perspectives of Act Utilitarianism.

The Pros and Cons of Intervention

Intervening in the lives of these natives may seem like a morally righteous action, but is it really? In answering this question we must ask ourselves why we plan to intervene in the first place and carefully weigh the pros and cons of intervention. By intervening, we can help eradicate the human rights abuses that are apparent within this tribe and help them develop so that they are not ignorant of the rest of the world. However, is this what the tribe wants and ultimately does it matter? Chances are the tribe (or a large amount of the tribe) will not want our aid. After all most people are resistant to change and are stuck in old mindsets. With that set, some members will likely resist us and what then? Should we impose school on them or make it optional? If it’s optional, there is no guarantee that our efforts will pay off or if a significant number of people will attend. Are these risks we’re willing to take? On the other hand, if we make it mandatory, we stop being a school and start being an artificial government and that isn’t what we want. We want to help enlighten the villagers not control them, though the perspective of a Moral Egoist might disagree.
I think that a good parallel is the current war in Iraq. This war has been fiercely debated by politicians and citizens alike for a number of reasons. Among these reasons is; is it morally justifiable to intervene on another country’s (or in our case village’s) way of life and supersede their national/tribal sovereignty? Sure, there were atrocities in Iraq, but was it our business to get involved? Very few people can provide a conclusive answer. Another thing, the United States didn’t just fix the problem. In essence they “temporarily” seized control of Iraq and had/has control over its government. Our case would of course be nobler than the United States’ role in Iraq because oil has frequently been brought up into that equation. However, a Moral Egoist or Moral Kantianist might try to exploit the natives for their lands and resources before other organizations/companies get there to take advantage of them. This could even be justified from the perspective of a Moral Relativist by paying the natives more money for their work and a greater compensation for their land and resources when compared to other corporations who might pay them nothing.
However, assuming we are firm adherents of Act Utilitarianism and are in this for altruistic reasons we will try to make the decisions that maximize happiness for both the natives and ourselves. Personally, I believe that correcting human rights abuses is our primary goal as these actions are resulting in a great deal of unhappiness and death. However, forcing conformity and knowledge that they don’t want is also abusive and morally ignorant as it would cause the natives to be unhappy and possibly rebel against us resulting in our unhappiness and possibly death.

Therefore it has been decided that intervention is necessary, but that we must be tactful in this matter and not upset their balance of power by superseding their rights, their “government” or their tribal sovereignty. Intervention is not a quick and forceful process, but instead a long, drawn out and optional process. We can provide knowledge, but the natives must be the one’s to put it use.

Ethics and Moral Dilemmas

Ethics and morality are very important because even with knowledge it can be used inappropriately without a properly developed sense of morals. The natives practice many different traditions that can quite clearly be considered unethical. These include their practices of warring, infanticide and cannibalism. These result in unnecessary death, injuries and sadness and we must teach them that this is wrong. However, blatantly teaching them that their customs are wrong would surely provoke the natives and cause them to shun our advice and possibly become aggressive towards. In teaching them, we must do so in a logical, rational and sensitive way so as not to offend the tribe. These are traditions that they have likely practiced their entire lives and for many generations and we must take this into account when dealing with these practices. Though they may seem bizarre to us and are clearly unethical, they don’t know better and have accepted them as a part of their way of life. Perhaps in our school we should teach them about ethics and morality in general as a part of the curriculum. We could teach them about what morality means and then let them come to their own conclusions about their outdated practices. If the teaching is good, they will come to the correct conclusions and decide for themselves that their practices go against what is right and decent and stop them of their own accord. I think that this is a better and more sound solution than blatantly telling them their customs are wrong, as it would be unfair of us to come to conclusions for them; after all we’re there to establish a school, not a government – we’re there to make them our equals not our slaves. “A man chooses, a slave obeys.” They must not follow our teachings blindly, they must do so with a critical mind and a watchful eye, very similar to the teachings of the wise and benevolent IB.


Art is a very important part of society today as we know it and it is very beneficial for them to learn about certain kinds of art. Ever since the time of cave drawings and paintings art has been prominent in today's society. Such artwork from Leonardo Da Vinci has always been constantly discussed throughout the world. Art can also be useful to tie into religion not that certain religious views should be thrust upon them but it would help them to relate more to a society in which they need to get accustomed to. The difficulty with teaching them about art is brining the supplies and being able to them there. Bringing certain pictures of famous artwork and maybe a few artist supplies would benefit the tribe in question greatly. Art is used to express emotions and feelings if taught about these certain things, the stimulance of feelings could become prominent if certain members of the tribe became very interested in art, it would be a vessel to express there emotion and feeling rather then have them remain cannablistic, it would help to keep the immorale feelings and help them release emotions. Such pictures as described can be found by following the links below
external image moz-screenshot-1.jpgexternal image moz-screenshot-2.jpghttp://www.jeffgannon.com/archives/last_supper.jpg
external image moz-screenshot.jpg


Music is not a hugely important part but, it would still be beneficial for us to provide them with some of the mainstream types of music as well as music teachings. Music can help to stimulate feelings and emotions, it would be very helpful for them to learn about different kinds of music and styles. The tribe in question does in fact live in Brazil providing them with a Brazilian perspective on music would be the best to start off. Bringing them classical music from certain famous historical composers such as Mozart or Beethoven or Bach, would help to stimulate there feelings as well as provide a diverse enough background of music and different composers would be beneficial. Classical music is said to help provided more intelligence to kids as well as to provide them with a certain stimulant boost which would give them more control over the feelings and cannibalistic ways. To relate this to religion, certain religious bands or music could also be tied in to provide them with more about religion and how each different religion expresses themselves diversely.


Language is the essence of human communication and has been around for thousands of years defining our societies and ways of life. Even cave men spoke in grunts and images on cave walls and as our mastery of language quickly progressed so too did the development of our societies. Language continued to improve becoming increasingly complex as more and more people learned to write and read as well as speak. Languages connect us all and those who speak different languages are often faced with an insurmountable boundary, which makes communication nearly impossible. In the world today, Mandarin, Spanish and English are the three mostly commonly spoken languages and thus learning any of these languages would offer the greatest possibility for communication. However, geography and culture must also be taken into account when deciding on what languages should be learned. The tribe in question lives in Brazil in the Amazon Jungle and thus learning Portuguese (the national language of Brazil) would be of utmost importance. It is known that in the next 3-5 years, the tribe will come into contact with Brazilian companies that will want to negotiate with them to take over the bulk of their hunting grounds and remove the forests of hardwoods to be used to build expensive furniture for rich American families in the United States. In essence, this tribe will meet with greedy capitalists who will want to exploit them for their resources and possibly labour. This type of exploitation between developed and undeveloped, native and non-native populations has taken place throughout history all over the world. Some examples include Canada and the United States where natives were subjected to unfair treaties, torture and death. This happened because of the powerful cultural divide that existed between the two groups and this cultural divide was strengthened by dissimilar languages making communication very difficult. We must ensure that the same thing doesn't happen to these natives and the clearest way to achieve this is through making communication a benefit and not a hindrance. This means that the Brazilian tribe should be taught Portuguese as this is the language that is commonly spoke throughout Brazil and is the language the Brazilian companies will likely speak.
It is known that we could teach them a second language however seeing as there is such a great cultural divide teaching them even one language could prove difficult. We would like to put most of the emphasis of language studies on Portuguese and only if possible focus on Spanish.


What is a book? A book is a written or printed work glued or sewed together and then bound between two covers. Indeed, this is a definition of a book, yet they are so much more. Books recount our histories, our stories, our myths, our predictions, our religions, our skills, our knowledge and our ideas. It has been said by Jesse Lee Bennet that, “Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.” This could not be truer and yet to be faced with the choice of picking but two works of literature from this plethoric sea of ideas is truly a daunting task. There’s fiction and in it; fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery etc. In non-fiction there’s history, economics, ethics and other pieces of societal importance. To decide what two books to bring we must think about what our goals are and choose literature that is complimentary to the rest of our teachings.
We plan on teaching them about ethics, culture, language, history, geography, music, art, civilization and the workings of the world. This is why works of great authors such as Shakespeare or George Orwell or even J.R.R. Tolkien were considered. However, somehow none of these authors seemed quite right. Indeed, Shakespeare is a celebrated author whose stories have become the basis for countless novels, George Orwell’s novels (such as Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four) offer insightful truths into human nature, how the world works and the rights of man and J.R.R. Tolkien is a creative genius and a master of fantasy as seen in his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. However, then we remembered Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel about prejudice and injustice in the world, a novel with one of the most compelling and morally virtuous characters in all of literature – Atticus Finch. This book would clearly teach the natives about ethics and the way the world works and help to convince them that their cannibalistic, warring and practices of infanticide are wrong, while also offering insight into what a city is and what goes on in other parts of the world.
Then we realized that there is something else important besides all these lessons that we seek to teach the natives. In addition to these, we recognize that understanding yourself is imperative to understanding the world around you. This is why we believe it is important to bring a novel from a prominent Brazilian author whom they can better relate to and understand. One such author is Paulo Coelho, the author of such works as The Alchemist and The Devil and Miss Prym, both of which involve strong ethical dilemmas involving the nature of humanity as good or evil. After considering the plot elements, The Devil and Ms. Prym was selected as it shows the importance of refusing temptations and this is extremely appropriate as it will help them better understand the Brazilian companies who will approach them and seek to take advantage of them with temptations of money and a better life.
In conclusion, we would like to bring the Portuguese editions of Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Paulo Coelho’s, The Devil and Miss Prym. If room is available we would also like to bring a dictionary/thesaurus and several early/beginner reading books.
To read a brief summary of The Alchemist, The Devil and Miss Prym and To Kill a Mockingbird please visit any of the following sites.
The Alchemist: http://bookreviews.nabou.com/reviews/thealchemist.html
The Devil and Miss Prym: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060527990/The_Devil_and_Miss_Prym/index.aspx
To Kill a Mockingbird: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/mocking/The
Lord of the Rings: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/The-Lord-of-the-Rings-About-the-Trilogy-The-Fellowship-of-the-Ring-A-Brief-Synopsis.id-172,pageNum-5.html

Animal Farm: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/animalfarm/

Nineteen Eighty-Four: http://mural.uv.es/mabela/summary.htm

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Devil and Miss Prym
The Devil and Miss Prym

History and Geography

History and geography are two very important areas of study that allow us to have a better understanding of people, the world around us, where we come from and where we’re going. Geography allows us the knowledge to understand where we live and where that is in relation to the rest of the world. Basic geography also teaches us the importance of scale and how we really only represent a small part of a larger society. History on the other hand teaches several important things. We must learn valuable lessons from the mistakes and successes of our forefathers and we must learn about our customs and our values as this gives us a sense of meaning and purpose in the world.
When our school is established we will have central theme or motto that impacts language, history and geography. This most is that to understand the world you must first understand yourself. This has already been discussed in the context of language and literature, but not yet for geography and history. What we mean by this is that the Brazilian tribe should first be taught about their own local geography in the Amazon Jungle, then the geography of their village in relation to their country and finally their country in relation to the rest of the world. If taught properly, this will give them a sense of connectivity with the world and their own culture, geography and experiences will help them to understand the world around them.
History should also be taught with this notion in mind and the Brazilian tribe should actually teach “us” about their history and we should document it together. Then, we could help them to further understand their history by putting it into context with that of Brazil and the world.
Teaching them about themselves in literature, geography, history, culture and ethics serves an additional goal besides helping them understand the rest of the world by expanding outwards. When they are eventually confronted by Brazilian corporations who wish to exploit them and destroy their culture they will know where they stand and they will have a firm understanding and a documented culture that will want to protect. This will help ensure that their tribe is able to survive and help ensure that the environment of the Amazonian Jungle is protected. Two birds with one stone.


A detailed map of the world was chosen as it would allow them to learn about their surrounding environment, about The Amazonian Jungle, about Brazil, about South America and about the rest of the world. This map provides enormous possibilities for education and allows them to learn about political and physical geography. However, most importantly, this map will teach them the idea of scale and how they really make up only a very small part of the world. This will allow them to accept the idea that there are so many places around the world that they have not experienced and this will hopefully open their minds to be more receptive to knowledge of these distant places.

external image world_rel_803005AI_2003.jpg
For a larger version of this map please refer to http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/world_rel_803005AI_2003.jpg