What happens in an ethics class?

Ethics classes are an opportunity for children to discuss ethical issues with their peers. Classes are impartially facilitated by our trained volunteers, using approved lesson materials. The volunteer teachers don’t give their own opinions, they simply facilitate discussion between the children.

Children explore a range of stories and scenarios pitched to their own age group and share ideas on what they ought to do in these situations, the kind of community we should build and what kind of person each of us is striving to be.

In ethics class, children may discuss:classruleslistframed

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 that?

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 maths, receive more attention?

A Stage 2 ethics class in action

Ethics classes skills

In ethics classes, children develop skills in:

  • listening to each other
  • taking turns to speak
  • building on others’ ideas
  • respectfully disagreeing
  • evaluating evidence, giving reasons for their opinions
  • carefully considering views that are different to their own
  • respectfully challenging each others’ thinking
  • helping each other express ideas
  • articulating values and principles
  • putting a counter view and asking questions
  • using logic and reason.

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 lifelong capacity to make well-reasoned decisions about ethical issues.

Taking turns and listening respectfully

Quote block HughPrimary Ethics teachers undergo training in behaviour management and each ethics class adheres to six principles, outlined in the six Ethics class rules.

In ethics classes, children learn that their opinion is respected, it’s okay to have a different opinion from their classmates and that it’s also okay 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.

View our curriculum topics

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