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

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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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.

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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A little volunteering role with big returns

Media Release Thursday 12 January 2017 

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It’s not guaranteed to make a person lose weight or get fit, but volunteering to teach ethics to children satisfies a number of other common New Year’s resolutions such as learning new skills, meeting new people and giving back to the community.

Primary Ethics is seeking volunteers to teach ethics in public primary schools across NSW. The not-for-profit was established in 2010 to give parents and carers the option of ethics education for their children. Currently 32,000 children receive ethics education. Bruce Hogan, Chair of Primary Ethics, wants to see that number grow.

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