Ethics in School

It was a fascinating episode of Insight on SBS last night, as audience members put their views on the pilot ethics program in NSW public primary schools. The ethics program runs as an alternative to the ‘scripture’ classes (or whatever religious classes are being offered at a particular school). I was impressed by the standard of the debate; a lot of incisive points were made, and the rather simple American fundamentalist only got to speak once.

I don’t think the Christians have a particularly strong case for objecting to the program. The problem is that children whose parents don’t want them taking religious instruction are left with nothing to do; the secular ethics class gives them an alternative.

The North Sydney Anglican bishop Glenn Davies wanted the framework behind the ethics class made transparent. Or perhaps his concern was that it wasn’t giving students a moral framework with which to make ethical decisions. (This is a question I have too.) He also wanted ethics discussed by all students, including Christian ones, so that those students with a religious worldview had a voice.

The situation is complex in post-Christendom.

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