AN increased demand for children to attend ethics lessons at Bonnells Bay Public School is being reflected across Lake Macquarie, prompting calls for more volunteers to come forward to host the classes.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with interest this year. Parents have voted with their feet,” ethics teacher Paul Foster said.
Mr Foster and his wife Donna both volunteer to host ethics classes at Bonnells Bay.
The couple’s daughter Lauren, 9, and twin sons, Ben and Ryan, 6, are students at the school.
At Bonnells Bay, parents are given the option of having their children take scripture classes, ethics classes, or neither.
Mr Foster said that as more parents discovered that ethics classes were an option, and once they investigated what’s involved in an ethics class, more were choosing for their children to attend the classes.
He estimated that about half of the 400 children at Bonnells Bay now attended ethics classes. It means, ideally, another three or four ethics teachers are required at the school.
“Volunteer ethics teachers do not need a background in teaching or ethics, just a willingness to learn how to deliver classes,” he said.
The ethics curriculum is developed by Primary Ethics, the charity approved to offer ethics classes in NSW public schools.
Volunteers receive two days of training in how to manage a classroom, and in education techniques.
“And volunteers are taught that they must keep their personal views to themselves in classes,” Mr Foster said.
In ethics classes children discuss a diverse range of scenarios and stories, but the common link is developing their skills in moral reasoning.
Younger children might explore topics such as being left out, keeping promises, sharing and bullying. Older children reflect on issues such as homelessness and child labour.
All are encouraged to develop skills in collaborative inquiry, logical reasoning, critical thinking, respectful disagreement, listening and self-expression.
Mr Foster said it was rewarding to see children develop their critical thinking and reasoning.
“We see them discover that learning to think is more important than having all the answers,” he said.
“They learn to look beyond the information given to them by others and to find their own truths and ultimately be more considerate of others.”
- Visit primaryethics.com.au