Ethical dilemma: Can we have iPads?

I love my iPhone. I’ve experimented with iPads and think they would be excellent tools to enhance learning at our school.

We’re a PYP school. We promote global citizenship, intercultural understanding and international mindedness. We want our students to become socially conscious, mindful citizens working towards creating a better world. Through our units of inquiry, we try to develop awareness of issues such as child rights, sharing finite resources, social inequities and fair trade.

We encourage our students to take action as a result of their learning, to consider, among other things, their choices as consumers…

This morning I read this article in The Age.

A new report into conditions at Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has found slave labour conditions remain, with staff complaining of being worked to tears, exposure to harmful disease, pay rates below those necessary to survive and military-style management that routinely humiliates workers.

Read the whole article here at The Age.


Can we have iPads?


5 thoughts on “Ethical dilemma: Can we have iPads?

  1. Very big dilemma, indeed… not the kind of thing most Westerners really think of when we buy electronics.

    Questions that could be addressed (maybe there’s a great inquiry unit on equity or social justice here!!!):

    What kinds of conditions are workers in similar factories, creating similar devices, exposed to?

    How do we, as a global community, ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen?

    How might the “think globally, act locally” slogan help, in this situation?

    Is there anything the consumer can do to prevent this continuing?

    Where is the bias in this article?


  2. My first reaction, NO!! How dare anyone make another human being’s life miserable! Another thought, let’s make those iPads work against this injustice! “Yeh, yeh”, I hear you say “a token statement to appease our guilty conscience!”. As Educators we’re in it for the long haul, we speak of helping form responsible, caring global citizens for the future, we also tell our students that they can take action now.
    Perhaps we (our school community) needs to investigate and then take a stand, make it known to the local and global community that we will not support a company that is so bad. The products we already own can help.
    I have an iPhone, I will not buy an iPad until I know more. I have an ethical shopper app that helps me make shopping choices that won’t harm.
    Let’s not forget that it’s the learning first, not the tool! Yes, the iPad is an impressive tool. Can we turn that tool on it’s maker? Do we take an ethical stand and not buy? Do we buy and make it a mission to fight the injustice? My fear would be that if we bought the tool, it would take just one week and we would forget the ethical battle.
    To not have the tool and let the world know why, might be more effective. Ethical shopping is about critical thinking, inquiry and integrity. Let’s practice those skills and see what we learn.


  3. As already noted, it’s not just an ethical dilemma – it’s also a financial one: will you buy an iPad costing twice as much? It is also a cultural one; I can almost guarantee that the dilemma those suffering slave labour would be quite different than for the consumers – is working there worse than the alternative (not working there, working somewhere else, not working at all).

    I have no answers, rather, more questions.


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