Cowboy Ethics

When a teacher from Denver, USA,  read “Cowboy Ethics,” a book about what Wall Street bankers can learn from the Old West, she instantly identified it as the perfect teaching tool for her at-risk class.

in 2009, The Denver Post reported how a local teacher had developed a rigorous academic curriculum around a book which described the 10-point Code of the Wild West. She took the lessons of the Old West — the simple unspoken code that guided cowboys’ lives — and applies them to situations faced by teens in the 21st century.

In one class, for example, students sharpened their critical-thinking skills by answering questions designed to elicit their own personal values.

Would you rather end hunger or hatred?

Would you rather always lose or never play?

One teen who had dropped out returned to school because of the class, where the values he learned — particularly the instruction to “live each day with courage” — inspired him to graduate.

1 Live each day with courage

2 Take pride in your work

3 Always finish what you start

4 Do what has to be done

5 Be tough, but fair

When I read this article and looked up the references, I felt that there was much that could inspire teachers of youngsters in our EBD schools to start thinking philosophically about the way they respond to the challenges they face. I think that the Code could be more easily understood and remembered than many of the Codes of Conduct in out secondary schools, here in the UK.

Now read: Choice Theory: The Quality World

A New Skill to Learn


Owen, J.P. (2005)  Cowboy Ethics Stoecklein Publishing

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