Building knowledge and capacity for action on climate change

Worldwide, children are making an impact as they enter into conversations and take action on climate change.

Schools, too, are playing an important role in providing access to facts and building knowledge about our environment and the impact of human behaviour.

In NSW, students start learning about the environment in kindergarten, with specific content included in the k-10 geography and the k-6 science and technology syllabuses. There are also opportunities to learn about sustainability in all NSW syllabuses in line with the requirements of the Australian Curriculum.

We must also to look to our First Peoples for guidance and knowledge regarding responsible stewardship of our earth. Cultural knowledge is a vastly under-appreciated resource, and we could all learn much more from generations of experience of sustainable land management if we listen. In doing so, we also have an opportunity to create a more just and sustainable world.

A vital and unifying aspect of achieving change is the capacity to talk, plan and take action alongside others who have differing points of view or experience from your own. Talking together allows us to challenge long-held beliefs that may be rooted in inaccuracy, to bring fresh ideas into the conversation, and to consider how choices we make, whether personally or at a policy level, impacts others and our environment.

“How to talk about climate change (without losing friends)” was a talk given last month by year 7 student Belle at her local climate action meeting.

In her talk, Belle emphasises the importance of engaging in conversation, and particularly in respectful disagreement, with others.

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Complaint demonstrates overall success of ethics program

It takes a village to raise a child – and many of those who enrich our children’s lives do so as volunteers.

P&C committees, canteen, reading groups, garden club, uniform shop, sport coaches, Scouts, Guides, playgroups – volunteers make a huge contribution to children’s lives and are being celebrated in Volunteer of the Year Award ceremonies held this month around the state.

“Yes we are volunteers, but we take this role very seriously,” said Suzan Fayle, who has facilitated ethics classes for the past six years at Orange Grove Public School.

Ms Fayle is one of 2800 Primary Ethics volunteers who help 45,000 students each week to think for themselves and develop the skills to disagree respectfully with others. Lessons based on philosophical ethics give children skills in critical thinking and ethical reasoning.

The children who complained about the teacher at Dulwich Hill Public School (“Ethics teacher stood down for saying Stolen Generations due to bad parents”, Sydney Morning Herald, September 9) used just those skills, and should be commended. Continue reading

The Diversity Project

Primary Ethics has embarked on a project to ensure that our curriculum is inclusive of the diversity in our target audience – NSW school students.

In order to make sound, best-practice adjustments, we are undertaking a project with the following phases:

Phase 1 Research best-practice and scope the diversity review.
This phase is now complete.

Phase 2 Review lesson materials to gain a full understanding of current state of curriculum.
This phase is now underway and we’re asking for assistance.

Phase 3 Determine appropriate changes and update lesson materials.
This will commence when Phase 2 has been completed.

We want to incorporate best-practice inclusion and representation into our lessons and we plan to achieve this by modifying existing lessons where required, altering the characters and stories to provide positive diverse representation both within each topic and across the full curriculum.

A review of academic literature as part of Phase 1 shows that it is appropriate to consider Primary Ethics curriculum as children’s literature in the context of child development. It also shows the curriculum to be a legitimate and appropriate mechanism through which to represent diversity to primary school-aged children. Continue reading

Why pilot ethics classes for year 7 students?

High schoolPrimary Ethics is the single approved provider of special education in ethics (SEE) to NSW Department of Education public schools.

While our primary focus is primary schools, we’ve fielded many requests over the years from high school principals, parents and students themselves, who have sought a secular alternative to Special Religious Education that helps young people to make sense of the world. In those early years, it was not possible for us to act on those requests.

2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Primary Ethics’ establishment, and we’re pleased that next year we will be able to offer high school communities the opportunity to participate in a pilot ethics program for year 7 students.

An ethics program for year 7 students will:

  • support students to develop skills in critical thinking, respectful discussion and ethical reasoning – skills which are transferable to the key learning areas of the secondary curriculum
  • support students in making the transition from primary to secondary school,
  • assist with development of interpersonal and decision-making skills as well as the consideration of ethical dilemmas that can loom large in the adolescence years
  • give choice to families by providing a high quality and valued secular alternative to SRE
  • promote lifelong interest and learning through providing a foundation in philosophical ethics that may assist students to undertake philosophy as a secondary elective or as part of a tertiary course of study

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New Role: eLearning developer (contract)

Develop two online courses to support volunteers in the delivery of ethics education to children.

About Primary Ethics

We are an independent not-for-profit organisation delivering an engaging, age-appropriate, interconnected philosophical ethics curriculum to children in Kindergarten to Year 6. We provide this free of charge via a network of trained and accredited volunteer teachers. Ethics classes have been enthusiastically adopted in over 500 schools in NSW and we take pride in our reputation as an effective and well-regarded education provider within the public school system.

Based in Potts Point, we currently have a staff of 9 (7.5FTE) managing approaching 2500 volunteer teachers, coordinators and regional managers across NSW.

Role Description

Design and develop two short online CPD courses for our volunteer ethics coordinators, using content provided by our subject matter experts.

Courses are to be developed using Articulate Storyline software, which will be available on a PC in our office in Potts Point. Continue reading

Two new P/T roles to grow & sustain ethics education program

Primary Ethics is currently recruiting for two new part-time paid job opportunities within Primary Ethics to support our mission to support children to develop skills in ethical reasoning, critical thinking and respectful discussion. Applications for both roles close at 5:00pm on Friday, August 31, 2018.

Fundraising Manager (Part Time)

Quote Hallie, 8

Primary Ethics seeks to appoint a fundraising manager to drive growth in several areas to support operations and drive towards financial sustainability.

An experienced and visionary manager is needed for this key operational role, which is integral to our volunteer engagement and community awareness effort.

View the position description: Fundraising Manager

Community Development Manager (Part Time/Contract)

Primary Ethics is about to begin a project to develop approaches to increase awareness of our program in the greater south-west Sydney metropolitan zone. Overall Primary Ethics has a low presence in public primary schools in the region when compared to other areas of Greater Sydney. We seek a contract community development program manager to lead the project.

View the position description: Community Development Manager

Smiling child with missing tooth

Ethics classes at school: Guest post

by Sandra Henri, ethics teacher

For those of you not familiar with Ethics Classes at your local public school, let me rave about them for minute. Ethics is offered as one of the scripture options, yet don’t let this fool you into thinking its a religious vs non-religious thing.

Ethics is actually about teaching critical thinking skills, in a thought provoking, non-judgement way. Each week, moral stories are discussed, and students are encouraged to consider ‘why’ they hold this opinion, and to see the story from various angles. We have a strict rule that there are to be no put-downs, and differences of opinion will be respected. This gives students an opportunity to speak out against the crowd, and think more deeply about why they might choose to act in a particular way. It teaches children to make decisions based on their own inner moral code, rather than blindly following social norms. We rarely reach a conclusion in these classes, the aim is to cultivate the thinking process.

Some examples of topics include;

  • How do we display friendship?
  • Do we stereotype without realising it?
  • Would you share with your friends vs people you don’t know?
  • Should animals be kept in captivity?
  • What is inner and outer beauty, which do you value more?
  • How can we be a conscious consumer?

Read more about ethics classes here.

I believe critical thinking is an invaluable life skill, that I wish was part of the regular curriculum! It is super rewarding hearing their wisdom expressed with so much conviction (and cuteness), and it feels like you are helping grow little activists. If you have time, I can highly recommend becoming a volunteer ethics teacher, or at the very least, jump on this free resource and get your kids involved.

Ethics classes at school first appeared on Sandra’s blog Less Stuff More Meaning.

Professor Dame Marie Bashir a guest of honour at Primary Ethics class

Professor Dame Marie Bashir is indefatigable in her grassroots support of Australian communities and last Wednesday, March 7, her attention was on ethics classes in public schools.

Despite the loss of her husband Sir Nicholas Shehadie in recent weeks, Professor Bashir continues to dedicate an incredible amount of energy and time to supporting communities build on essential areas as education, health and international relations.

Professor Bashir joined former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and his partner Carolyn Fletcher to participate in an ethics class at Marie Bashir Public School. Continue reading

Ethics class in Earlwood a lesson in fairness

An ethics class in Earlwood yesterday had some extra special guests.

Shadow Minister for Education Mr Jihad Dib MP, along with former Premier and Minister for Education The Hon Nick Greiner, sat in a colorful classroom at Earlwood Public School and listened as volunteer ethics teacher Marta Tordi facilitated a discussion on fairness using the story of the Little Red Hen.

Nick Greiner Jihad Dib visit ethics class

The Hon Nick Greiner and Mr Jihad Dib MP were welcomed to the school by school captains Andrew and Poppy.

 

Children explained their reasons as to whether they thought different animals should get larger portions of bread depending on, for example, whether they had helped to sow or mill the wheat, or according to their size, or whether all portions should instead be divided equally. It was not entirely dissimilar to the current debate around school funding.

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Four reasons why ethics teachers won’t give your child a treat this Easter

Ethics classes are run in NSW public schools by parents, grandparents and other trained volunteers from the school community. The classes are held in the Special Religious Education/ Special Education in Ethics timeslot, and exist as a valuable learning opportunity for children whose parents have opted them out of SRE.

In the lead up to Easter, we sometimes hear that it’s not fair that children in ethics class miss out on the chocolate eggs and other Easter-themed treats that are handed out in some of the religious instruction classes.

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