Teaching honour and integrity

Inquiry: How can I help law enforcement studies students grow their integrity “muscles” and prepare to work on the honour system that will be required in their future careers?

By Frits Ahlefeldt – HikingArtist.com

Strategy: LESD/ LAWS1207 Honour-system explained.  

In Dr. Ariely’s documentary (on Netflix), he reports that the simple act of getting subjects to swear on a bible —or the US constitution — will reduce cheating to zero.

So what if our LESD students swear on a future law enforcement oath? Will they act honourably and not cheat?

In my class students could earn up to 10% bonus points “on the honour system” providing they completed and “honour” checklist and signed the oath below. Here is the LESD oath and honesty system.


“On the honour system”

I someday aspire to be a law enforcement officer and take the following oath:

I swear/solemnly affirm that: I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors; I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and prevent all offences against the persons and properties of Her Majesty’s subjects; I will faithfully, honestly and impartially perform my duties as a law enforcement officer. (B.C. Reg. 204/98; O.C. 723/98)

In preparation for the supreme integrity and honesty that will be expected of me in my future career, I am committed to conducting myself in my law enforcement studies accordingly. With the oath above in my mind, I affirm that I have been truthful, met all conditions, followed rules, and given credit for others work in the assignment, quiz, paper, exam, etc. I have —or am about to — complete. 

(Sign your name here to so affirm) ___________________________________________________________


More about the documentary ’(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies’ is a documentary feature film that explores how and why people lie. The film is anchored in behavioral experiments that measure our propensity to lie – sometimes even unknowingly. On a more personal level, from little white lies to devastating deceits, people share on camera the true stories of lies they’ve told. Experts examine the reasons behind our behavior and the implications of our dishonesty. Behavioral scientist Dan Ariely brings these elements together and guides us in discovering the complicated truths about lies.

Method: I prepared a series of career-relevant and fun activities that would occur outside of my supervision and the honour system. Students could choose to do all — or none — of these activities. Each activity was worth one bonus point (1%). Click on these PDFs to see all the activities I offered last year.

  1. Thanks for use of Aboriginal lands.
  2. Reusable Coffee Cup Challenge
  3. Police news – biased or not?
  4. Phones and distractions.
  5. Ms Marvel comic.
  6. Interview with Chief Mark Saunders
  7. Have coffee with other cohort
  8. Diversity of faces
  9. Pokemon Go – diversity and social justice.
  10. Distinguished Women Police Officers challenge

Learning outcomes: About 10% of students opted to do some of the honour system bonus activities. Two students (out of 175) loved the activities so much they completed every one. I received good feedback from nearly all students on this activity. Even though only 10% of students elected to do the activities, I believe 100% of students felt that I truly trusting them to be on their honour and that I would not undermine the system by doubting their integrity or checking up on them. I heard no student complain that others were abusing the terms of these activities. On the contrary, I received a couple of comments from students expressing surprise that the honour system bonuses “actually worked”.
Recommendation: In a learning environment where students are receiving credentials that require taking a professional oath — having students practice on the honour system so they can grow their integrity “muscles” seem like a natural fit.


Dr. Jessica Motherwell McFarlane is a professional education consultant on gender, anti-oppression and social justice issues and a research associate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She is also the developer and director of the Life Outside the Box program that uses visual narratives as a way to SEE conflict and injustice from new perspectives. Jessica facilitates groups and schools needing to have complex — and sometimes emotionally painful — conversations. She offers workshops to at-risk children, youth, and adults on: Truth and Reconciliation, transforming bullying situations, and rehearsing best practices for self-care, inclusivity, and kindness.

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