Monday, December 5, 2011

$250 Ethical Question

Tonight I came home and had a check for $250 waiting for me. I had no idea what it was from, until I Swagbucks'ed the company. I realized that it's my stipend for having a student teacher this semester. Score! I knew I'd get paid, but I forgot about it so this is a nice surprise.

Here's my ethical question. I shared the responsibilities of having a student teacher with a co-worker of mine. My student teacher split class time evenly between us, however he did all of his videos, interviews, and coursework in my class. We filmed weekly planning videos and did an exit interview together. The other teacher didn't do that part. For that reason I'm pretty sure that I am the only one who got paid, and not my co-worker. The videos and filmed planning sessions weren't a ton of work or anything, but it was an extra responsibility that fell to me.

So, do I have an obligation to split the money with my co-worker? Of course I'm tempted to keep my mouth shut and not ask about if he got paid. If he did, great, if he didn't I don't need to know. I did do a bit more work than he did, and the student teacher chose me to be the one to help him with his class requirements, but I'd feel gipped if the roles were reversed since he taught with both of us.

I haven't decided what to do, and I do think it's a gray readers, weigh in. To share or not to share?


  1. If you truly were the only one who got paid, then I think you deserve to keep the whole thing. If the other teacher should have been given a check, she would have been. I say just don't mention it and keep the whole thing, especially if you worked more closely with the student teacher (and, therefore, worked harder yourself).

  2. I agree with Megg. Obviously you deserved it if you got it. I wouldn't feel bad.

  3. I think imagine the roles were reversed between you and the other teacher, what would feel right in that situation?
    if you'd feel gypped, then I'd split it with her, if not then keep it.

  4. I would be very careful here. I would find out if the other teacher got paid and then if not I would split. Even if you did more work, it is just the right thing to do. I am with Louise, reverse you roles, if you would not be upset then it is okay. But money is a funny and makes people act different. I know one time I worked every year with a director who was getting a monthly stipend of $340.00 to teach drama and then an $800.00 a show stipend also. He kept is all and I worked my butt off. Later when he moved to the High school, I became the director and I really felt ripped off because I thought he took advantage of me. I was the underling but I worked very hard. He could have shared a little with me and he did not, it always made me think differently of him when I found out.

  5. I would try to first put yourself in as "impersonal" or "non-biased" of a mind state as possible.

    This theory pre-supposes great underlying ethical purpose(s?) which are immutable roots to serve as guidance (in theory) for a branch scenario such as this one:

    Ultimately, it could be more or less satisfactorily simplified into "pursue the well-being of all sentient beings."

    I would try to figure out the net impact that either decision has on this overarching goal.

    This is obviously a difficult thing to accomplish, and your odds of weighing all of the factors sufficiently enough that you reach true certain clarity (not just clarity in relation to a simple concept that addresses one tiny facet of the entire situation--the facet most likely to be overemphasized in this way perhaps being the monetary impact of the $250?) and understand why are low, and furthermore, it is unlikely that the impact of either decision will be significant (although possible they will be extremely significant!)--at least as far as the simple monetary part goes.

    The real impact, of course, lies not with the monetary shift but elsewhere. Ultimately most significant will be the "internal" effect that this has on you (and everyone else). How either decision consciously and/or subconsciously alters your view of yourself. Many external factors will of course play into this internal view (unless you're enlightened or something), such as how your friends and the blog readers and the COWORKER and anyone else who is exposed to this scenario feel about your decision and how they express those feelings to you and how you absorb that expression.

    So all of this (and more) must be factored into the decision, but ultimately to serve that higher purpose. Because it's probably unlikely that the simple monetary sum will be the real impact, you must consider ultimately how you will learn and grow and benefit, and how the other person will learn and grow and benefit (and technically, everyone else in the universe) from either decision.

    Of course don't try to incorporate every facet, just pick some significant factors that you feel confident in. For example, I could see a reasonable boiled-down assessment of the situation being something like this:

  6. "I am an intelligent human being. Because I explore concepts such as ethics and have an open mind, I am going to stake my money that I already do or already am capable of arriving at optimal conclusions..."

    EXAMPLE A "and therefore, I believe that extra funding will translate to extra influence over the world, and as I am more likely to exert positive influence than my less intelligent co-worker, ergo I should have more financial power (and keep all the money)."

    EXAMPLE B "and therefore, despite the fact that it is more optimal for me to gain money than my co-worker, what I really need to optimize my influence over the world is a key form of empathy that will motivate my FUTURE behavior optimally (alongside my intellectual mind) that cannot be cultivated with thought alone, but only with actual acts of generosity which will water it, such as this one, so, good bye money and hello powerful empathy!"

    EXAMPLE C "No amount of gift giving will engender empathy in me, and therefore I keep the money. EXAMPLE A was right the whole time!"

    EXAMPLE D "By this point I have realized it is impossible to know FOR CERTAIN what the optimal decision is, and the effort I might expend (which could have serviced our ultimate goal in other ways) trying to determine the right decision exceeded the negligent amount of clarity gained (it took me an hour to go from full blind 50/50 to only a mere 50.1/49.9!!!) and therefore I should just go with my immediate gut in the future and not waste time considering these questions and waste the time of others by posing them!"

    EXAMPLE E "That said, this sort of intellectual question is nourishing the minds of my blog readers, who are now themselves becoming more contemplative, more reflective, and more capable of rational thought, and now THEY are more likely to service the underlying goal! Hooray! I have created an army of moralists and the world shall benefit!!!"

    EXAMPLE F "In fact, my readers have dualistic minds that are incorrectly, sufferingly mired in the concepts of right and wrong, and one of them was on the verge of breaking free from such a flawed yet ubiquitous mental perspective, but this question that seeks a correct answer restrengthened the exact neural synapse that was about to collapse (which would have triggered a domino effect of global consciousness, universal freedom, and a martian celebration party before 2012 even started!!!) and now, instead, a chain reaction inside that person's brain in the opposite direction has begun and the human race as we know it will forever be stuck in dualism and endless suffering is in store for all of us."

    ...Put another way, If I had to guess, I would suggest: PRETEND to your coworker that the compensation was only $100, split THAT down the middle, take full "good person social credit" for the act, reflect on how it makes you feel, with the simple goal being that you'll learn the most this way and your fear at being found out (a proactive lie is more socially damning than "withheld information") might teach you something more significant than either of the two initially suggested options would yield...Then again, it might only nurture your paranoia and ruin your life from the inside out :(

    When in doubt, just keep the money.


  7. I would just keep the money if the other teacher didn't do as much to earn it. Maybe he got money too - if not, there's a reason for that!

  8. Simple. Share the check evenly. Look at big picture. This is perfect opportunity for you to show how unbiased you are and how trustful you are and this is great step in building long term relationship with your co-worker.

    you said, this check is a surprise (extra money). Think you got only half of it.

  9. Is it worth $125 to have potential tension between you and your co-worker? I would share the $...

  10. Honestly I think it's your to keep! I don't think you should bring it up yourself. If the other teacher brings it up and complains about not getting paid, then you might thinking about about splitting it with him to avoid any tension

  11. If you are asking the question, then I think some should go to the other teacher. If it feels awkward, regarless of how much work you did, then share. Of course, the optimal result would be the other teacher would say, "oh, you did most of the work so you should have most of the money."! Also, did you know what the stipend would be? Because that could be another dilemna - if the other teacher knows the stipend was $250 and you only gave him $75, then that could also be awkward. I would first find out what the stipend is - $250? $500?. And then I would talk to the teacher. I would also go with my gut feeling.

  12. For the record, the other teacher is a him.

    @Anonymous-are you an ethics professor? :) I can't claim moral superiority since I want to use the money to buy shoes. Interesting responses, I think I've decided, but keep them coming I like hearing people's perspectives.

  13. Who is the Anonymous with the long answer?? I am so curious. It was interesting to read.

  14. When in doubt, "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you..."