What we talk about in ethics classes 
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PrimaryEthics@Home for Parents and Carers | Term 1 2020

Welcome to the first edition of PrimaryEthics@Home for 2020. We've wrapped up ethics classes early for the term (more info here). A big thank you to the students for their energy, ideas and discussion in their ethics classes so far.

This issue of PrimaryEthics@Home is created in the understanding that many students will be currently studying from home, alongside their parents or carers. So we've included both an overview of the topics covered in ethics classes this term and activities to do together at home - even if you and your children are new to the Primary Ethics program, you'll find plenty of food for thought.

So buckle in and get ready
to tackle some ethical dilemmas!  
The Primary Ethics team.

Topics 1 & 2 2020

Early stage 1: kindergarten

Topic 1: Questions, puzzlement and what is okay

Ethics classes aim to nurture children’s curiosity, as well as their thinking abilities, so that they are motivated and confident enough to think well and for themselves about issues that matter to them. Find out more

In topics 1 & 2  we meet Mia and Oscar. Mia likes asking her brother lots of questions. 

What is a slug?" Mia asks. "Is it a snail that's lost its shell?" And then, picking up a snail, "if I took his shell off, would it be a slug?"

Topic 2: Secrets and a big important question

Have you ever wanted to ask a question out loud but didn’t, because you were worried it would sound silly? Supported, collaborative inquiry is one of the most effective means of bringing about understanding. But being curious and asking questions can take courage! Find out more

Stage 1: years 1 & 2


Topic 1: Pride: Vice or Virtue

Should we be proud of things we’ve made? Proud of what we do? The things we have?
Can we be proud of things others do? Such as a friend, or a sister?
Can we be too proud? Find out more

Topic 2: How important are the reasons?

Why is it so important that our beliefs, decisions and choices (and the actions that flow from them) are based on good reasons? The obvious answer is that this strategy gives us the best chance of forming true beliefs and making the best decisions or choices, or in the case of moral judgments and actions, doing what is right. Find out more
Image: In the topic 'How important are the reasons' we hear about an echidna called Nod, who ends up in a sticky situation when he copies the behaviour of others without understanding their reasons at all.

Stage 2: years 3 & 4


Topic 1: Being selfish

What is it to be selfish? And is being selfish always wrong?
Students work in small groups and as a class to build an understanding of opportunities to balance our own self-interest with the consideration of others. Find out more

Topic 2: Staring, Excuses and Reasons 

This topic is an exploration of a scenario, created by educator and philosopher Matthew Lipman, in which the character Pixie gets in trouble for staring at her sister Miranda. Firstly, we look at staring. We ask, is it ok to stare at something, like the moon? At emu chicks at the zoo?  Why? What about staring at a person? When might it be ok to stare at someone – and when is it not ok? Find out more

Stage 3: years 5 & 6


Topic 1: A fair society

The first lesson introduces a stratified fictional society, Liguria, which has two distinct social classes; the comfortable city people and the Outsiders who lack basic needs like food and shelter and for whom life is pretty tough.

Students are invited to consider the degree to which this society could be considered fair. Find out more

Topic 2: Human Rights: Do other animals have them?

In this topic we consider the important notion of human rights – what they are, where they come from and how they can be justified, and what obligations they impose on governments and citizens. And then we raise the question whether there are human rights that also extend to those animal species closest to us, namely the other great apes.  Find out more

Image: Nim Chimpsky washes dishes (photo credit)

About Primary Ethics

We're an independent, not-for-profit educational organisation delivering ethics education in schools across NSW. Our classes are facilitated and coordinated by skilled and authorised volunteers from the local community.  

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Suite 408 24-30 Springfield Ave Potts Point NSW 2011

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