Primary Ethics Curriculum Objectives

The curriculum aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to explore the questions, ‘What ought we to do?’  ‘What sort of person do I want to be? and ‘What might a fair society look like?’

In the process we support students to:

Develop critical thinking skills and attitudes, such as logical reasoning skills and fairmindedness- that is, a willingness to take the views of others seriously and to assess conflicting views on the basis of reason and evidence;

  • Build their capacity for questioning and inquiry and for engaging in respectful dialogue with their peers
  • Recognise and engage widely with ethical issues.
  • Think for themselves about moral principles, values and virtues as well as concepts such as equal human worth, and the common good.
  • Engage with a some of the elements of sound ethical decision-making*, such as:
    • Employing critical thinking skills
    • Recognising common capacities for suffering and well-being and empathising with others
    • Considering not only our own interests, but also the interests of others
    • Considering the consequences of our actions, and taking circumstances into account
    • Taking intention into account
    • Thinking about where our moral duty lies and what it means to treat someone as a means to our own ends
    • Thinking about whether a proposed action is consistent with the kind of person we should want to be
    • Employ some of these factors in their own moral decision-making

*These aspects of moral reasoning come from the ethical theories of Western moral philosophy, theories that have been modified by a continuous process of argument and counter- argument reaching back 2000 years

The approach taken by Primary Ethics is that ethical exploration in the classroom is best done through dialogue and discussion – a tradition of philosophical inquiry that goes right back to Socrates and which is tied to the substantive idea of living an ‘examined life’. This approach has significant social benefits. By learning to think about ethical matters together and through the give-and-take of reasoned argument, students will learn properly to consider other people’s points of view and to be sincere, reasonable and respectful in dealing with their differences and disagreements.