Ethics classes provide an opportunity for children to discuss ethical issues with their peers. Classes are inquiry based and are impartially facilitated by our trained volunteers using approved lesson materials.
Children explore a range of stories and scenarios, discussing what we ought to do, how we ought to live, the kind of society we should have and what kind of person each of us should strive to be.
In ethics class, children may discuss:
Can a sports competition ever really be fair? What about school? Should teachers give all students the same amount of attention or should those who need more help, say in mathematics, receive more attention?
Have you ever wondered what makes someone brave? Is it because they are never afraid or because they face the things they are afraid of? Are your ideas on this the same as everyone else’s?
What about lying, stealing or breaking a promise? We know these are wrong but perhaps there are circumstances which make these actions the only acceptable alternative – how can we know?
Critical thinking and collaborative inquiry
In ethics classes, children develop skills in:
Critical thinking: developing and evaluating arguments, using logic and reason, evaluating evidence, giving reasons and carefully considering views that are different to their own.
Collaborative inquiry: listening to each other, taking turns to speak, building on others’ ideas, respectfully disagreeing, respectfully challenging each others’ thinking, helping each other express ideas, articulating values and principles, putting a counter view and asking questions.
Classes support students to become critical thinkers with a strong capacity for questioning and inquiry. The overall aim of ethics classes is to help children develop a life-long capacity to identify and make well-reasoned decisions about ethical issues.
Taking turns and listening respectfully
Primary Ethics teachers undergo training in behaviour management, and each ethics class adheres to six principles, outlined here in the ‘Ethics Class Rules’.
In ethics classes, children learn that their opinion is respected, it’s ok to have a different opinion from their classmates, and that it’s also ok to sometimes change your mind.
Students learn how to disagree respectfully, to build on each other’s ideas, and to make their own decisions based on ethical reflection instead of peer pressure or habit.