Yet Another Threat To (Alternative To Scripture) Ethics Classes In NSW

Context – I was trained in the Philosophy for Children methodology in 2004 by Phillip Cam and Ann Margaret Sharp; it’s a part of the Philosophy and Ethics course that is taught state-wide here and I’ve interviewed Phillip Cam for the Token Skeptic podcast about it:

‘Did you know that children whose parents make a conscientious decision to have them opt out of Special Religious Education (SRE) are prohibited from any form of instruction during this period? NSW Department of Education policy provides for the supervision of these children but specifies they are not to have access to ‘ethics, values, civics or general religious education.’ – St James Ethics Centre.

This is not the first time that the classes have been under threat – Podblack Blog – August 11th.

Today - Sydney Morning Herald:

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry will examine whether ethics classes in NSW schools should be abolished less than a year after they began, prompting accusations of a deal between the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, and the Christian Democratic MP Fred Nile.

The inquiry, which will report by June, will be conducted by a committee dominated by conservative MPs, including the Liberals David Clarke and Marie Ficarra, and Mr Nile’s colleague Paul Green.

It will examine the objectives and effectiveness of the classes, the curriculum and whether the legislation that allows them to be taught as an alternative to special religious education should be repealed.

 Facebook group here. and Primary Ethics class Facebook group here. Suggestions are already being made for NSW citizens to write to their MPs. The Parents 4 Ethics class is a website with relevant resources.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • martha

    What!? And here was me, thinking that Australia was basically a rational country.

  • Marella

    Australians just don’t pay enough attention to this sort of thing, they mostly aren’t really interested in religion but tend to see it as “a good thing” without really thinking about it. We have to disabuse people of the idea that religion is harmless. Of course thanks must go to the catholic church for a sterling effort in this regard, but more needs to be done.

    • Aliasalpha

      Well fred nile is doing his best to demonise religion but he’s only one man…

  • Aliasalpha

    I find it interesting that classes on ethics are an alternative to scripture, I wonder who’s getting the richer education out of the equation

    • Jib

      I think the more important point is the departments view is that an alternative to religious education is no education. Under this environment many parents would opt to have their children indoctrinated as opposed to being bored. A sly yet typical tactic of religion.