Primary Ethics calling on volunteers to teach ethics in Lake Macquarie schools

GUIDING MINDS: Bonnells Bay Public School ethics teacher Gina Lemke is encouraging members of the public with time on their hands to sign up to become a Primary Ethics teacher. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
GUIDING MINDS: Bonnells Bay Public School ethics teacher Gina Lemke is encouraging members of the public with time on their hands to sign up to become a Primary Ethics teacher. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

As the nation gears up for the federal election, 10 year olds in Primary Ethics classes around the Lake are discussing the ethics of voting.

Students are being asked questions such as: is it okay to vote for someone just because they are your friend? Should a voter consider the impact of a policy on others, or just on themselves?

They are questions without a right or wrong answer, but posed to the students allow them an opportunity to voice their opinion and gain critical thinking skills.

"We often present scenarios to the students and ask, if they were in that position, what would they do," Bonnells Bay Public School ethics teacher Gina Lemke said.

Ms Lemke became a Primary Ethics teacher at Bonnells Bay last year. She teaches three classes - kindergarten, stage two and three - for 30 minutes each on a Friday.

In the ethics classes, kindergarteners to year 2 students focus on skills such as taking turns in talking, listening to ideas and giving reasons. To learn these skills the students explore topics around kindness, telling the truth, hurting someone without meaning to, forgiving, ownership, fairness and empathy.

Bonnells Bay Public School ethics teacher Gina Lemke.

Bonnells Bay Public School ethics teacher Gina Lemke.

Years 3 to 6 students learn critical thinking and discussion-based skills.

They learn these skills through stories, contemporary issues and real-life scenarios which form the basis of discussions on ethical issues such as disagreeing respectfully, teasing, cheating, and voting.

The ethics classes are for students who do not take part in scripture.

Primary Ethics, which run ethics classes in schools right across Lake Macquarie, are calling on volunteers to become teachers in schools.

The next Newcastle ethics teacher training workshop will be held May 4 and 5.

Volunteers will be trained to facilitate ethics classes in public primary schools to meet the growing demand.

"Getting involved in ethics teaching has been a real eye opener," Ms Lemke said. "I initially volunteered to give back to my local school who have been continuously supportive of my special needs child.

"After connecting with the classrooms and students, I feel much more connected to my entire local community. It's been a wonderful experience for me and I really enjoy it.

"I'd encourage anyone who has a half-an-hour to spare to volunteer. You'll be making a real difference in the hearts and minds of children. And there isn't a lot of preparation involved. You get all the materials you need."

For more information visit primaryethics.com.au or contact Graham Wrightson, the regional manager for West Lake Macquarie, at lakemacquariewest-region@primaryethics.com.au.

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