Primary Ethics is proud to offer a lockdown alternative to ethics classes in school. Bites! is our series of specially designed bite-sized lessons for children to chew over at home, practising their skills in close listening and ethical reasoning, based on material from our curriculum.
Each week during the lockdown, we will be posting an ethical dilemma to get you thinking.
Bites for the K-2 age group are designed for children to tackle individually, with one or more family members, assisted by an adult.
Bites for Years 3-6 [scroll down to see] are designed for children to work on individually or with a family group. An adult learning supervisor may like to take part by helping read the stories and questions and helping children think for themselves about the dilemma we pose.
years K – 2
Being Brave encourages students to think for themselves about the nature and importance of courage.
have you ever been called lazy?
In this Bite we use both classic tales and contemporary scenarios for students to explore and reflect on the views and attitudes they already hold about laziness, and guide them to think about what laziness is, whether it is always bad to be lazy and if so, why that is.
No way! what animals do that?
‘No way! What animals do that?’ aims to build on students’ intuitive capacity to provide examples and counter examples and to foster an appreciation of the role such logical moves play in everyday reasoning.
should neo tell on his sister?
‘Should Neo tell on his sister?’ extends the meerkat story in an effort to explore a behaviour commonly found among young children: ‘telling on’ someone. Children might recognise that there are times when telling on someone may get them into trouble, but that nevertheless it is necessary to tell – perhaps for safety reasons or to draw attention to some injustice.
making things up
In ‘Making things up’ we focus on two behaviours common among young children. The first is that of making a mistake and attempting to hide it from others in their peer group by ‘making up’ a story about what happened, rather than telling the true story.
We use a story about meerkats, rather than (human) children, to avoid awkward situations that can arise when children recognise the described behaviour as fitting that of one or more members of the class.
should we blame the donkey?
This Bite encourages children to think for themselves about the difference between meaning or intending to cause harm and causing harm ‘accidentally’. Children will listen to a story, ’The Donkey and the Little Dog’, and answer questions about the donkey’s intention, the harm he caused and the punishment he was given.
Should i share my pizza?
In this Bite, we encourage children to reflect on the differences (if any) between their willingness to share with friends and with strangers, with those who are in need, with those whose disadvantage or need seems to be the result of their own doing and those who find themselves disadvantaged or in need through no fault of their own.
When Harry met Harley
We meet Harry and Harley, two caterpillars that develop into butterflies. While they remember what it was like to eat leaves, they don’t do that any more. Is Harley still Harley, even though he looks quite different to the way he used to? We help the two friends try to figure it out.
What a whale might know
What a whale might know asks children to think about whether animals sometimes mean to do the things they do and the role knowledge plays in forming intentions.
Should Kalayla forgive Arly?
Should Kalayla forgive Arly? asks children to think about whether, when someone does something to hurt us, it is important to be open to forgiving the wrong and if so, why it’s important.
Years 3 – 6
do you really have a choice?
This Bite invites students to think about the extent to which we can be held morally responsible for our decisions and actions.
animals in captivity
To what extent should humans be treated differently from other animals? This is one of the ethical questions that is central to this topic. Is it ok to kidnap humans and keep them in captivity because they will be entertaining to watch?
In ‘Disagreeing, respectfully’, we encourage students to think for themselves about the process of disagreeing and to distinguish respectful from disrespectful disagreement, as well as considering the role respectful disagreement might play in helping us work out what we think.
In this Bite children are encouraged to think about what counts as boasting, as well as considering how it makes others feel when someone is boasting.
It also gives children a chance to wonder whether it is possible to boast about others if the purpose is to bask in the reflected glory, and where one might draw the line between what might be seen as boasting, and what is a healthy dose of pride for the skills and achievements of someone you might love or admire.
the rule’s the rule – is that ok?
‘The rule’s the rule – is that ok?’ encourages children to think about some of the challenges involved in thinking for ourselves and standing up for what is right – and how this may require a great deal of courage.
the right to life and liberty
This topic begins with the story of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee born in a US research facility and raised by scientists. He was the subject of an experiment to determine whether chimps are capable of learning human (sign) language. When the experiment finished, Nim was relegated to a solitary existence in captivity. Of course, if a human were to be treated like this we would condemn the treatment as a violation of fundamental human rights; rights that are enshrined in US law. In response to cases such as Nim’s, in 2008 the Spanish government granted certain human rights to chimpanzees and the other great apes.
This story provides the backdrop for the topic’s big question: Should other governments follow Spain’s lead in granting certain human rights to chimpanzees and other non-human great apes?
can a belief be dangerous?
Can a belief be dangerous? focuses explicitly on one of the skills necessary for engaging fruitfully with the ethical views and reasoning of others. The skill of disagreeing respectfully underlies the dialogical community-of-inquiry approach embedded in Primary Ethics. Such an approach requires participants not only to listen carefully to the views of others, but in addition to think seriously about others’ views and reasons in relation to their own and to be prepared to question others’ views on the basis of logic and evidence. This is (at least in part) what respectful disagreement amounts to. And a key message here is that we can disagree respectfully with someone while still trying to change their mind.
In Sahir’s Shoes
In Sahir’s Shoes aims to continue the development of students’ capacity to understand the feelings of others, including those in circumstances which differ markedly from their own. Our particular focus in this context is on children who are child labourers.
Who’s flying this plane anyway?
Who’s flying this plane anyway? invites children to think about the ancient notion of fatalism- the idea that our futures are fixed and that whatever we do, we cannot change them.
How come it’s different for Oki?
How come it’s different for Oki? challenges children to understand that common moral principles or values can underlie quite different sets of moral rules.