Friday, April 16, 2010

Almighty row over ethics in schools

Interesting row developing in Australia about alternatives to religiously-based ethics teaching. Go here.

Almighty row over ethics in schools:
Democracy and the welfare of children


By Dr Simon Longstaff

The Sydney Morning Herald (Saturday 26 September 2009) is to be congratulated for having helped to initiate public debate about discrimination against children whose parents make a conscientious decision that they not attend classes in special religious education (scripture). It is unfortunate that, rather than engage with the serious arguments advanced on behalf of many parents and their children, Mark Hillis of the InterChurch Commission on Special Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS) is reported as having said “I don’t see how having a small interest group coming into a school and ramping up things helps”. But who is this small interest group to which he refers?

The NSW Federation of P & C Associations has been promoting a review of NSW Education Department policy since 2003 – the year in which St James Ethics Centre was first approached by parents with a request that it examine the issues at the heart of this matter on their behalf. The NSW Federation of P & C Associations represents parents in 2,200 schools across NSW, making it the largest parent organisation in the Southern Hemisphere. It has twice passed motions calling for an ethics-based complement to scripture, most recently at its July 2009 AGM. In 2004, widespread support was demonstrated in a survey indicating a clear majority of parents felt it was important or very important that their child be offered an ethics-based option to scripture.

Mark Hills gave the impression that there is a monolithic lack of support, amongst religious groups, for the modest trial being proposed to the Minister for Education, Verity Firth. This is not entirely true. As part of a lengthy and comprehensive consultation process, St James Ethics Centre engaged with a broad cross-section of leaders including those within the faith-based realm. The vast majority of all respondents viewed this as a social justice issue — agreeing that all children should be treated with equity. The core curriculum does a certain amount of important work to aid ethical formation. However, if it is good enough to provide an additional opportunity in this area to some (who attend scripture) then it should be good enough for all. The denial of opportunity, on the basis of religion, is discriminatory and should not be endorsed by any government. Beyond this, there is a deeper question about the NSW Government’s commitment to democracy. We might ask: ought the untested fears of some, determine the plight of up to 80% of children at NSW primary schools who do not attend scripture? Does the government turn its back on the unmet needs of the majority of students in order to satisfy the demands of the few who cater for the needs of the few?

ICCOREIS may represent the official views of the faiths represented on its committee. It does not necessarily represent the views of ordinary members of faith-based communities. Many practising members of faith-based groups argue that all children have a right to an equal measure of meaningful instruction during the period allotted to scripture and have offered support for an ethics-based alternative. So do representatives of faith communities who are unable to mount their own scripture classes.

Seven P & Cs across NSW have already voted to take part in the proposed pilot that is awaiting ministerial approval to proceed. We encourage the Minister to base her decision on principles of democracy and social justice. In a modern, pluralistic and progressive Australia all children ought to be treated fairly. The major churches need to ask themselves a fundamental question that they have faced before: should children bear the costs of institutional self-interest?

Dr Simon Longstaff is Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre.

12 comments:

Paul P. Mealing said...

There is an interview with Philip Cam who was instrumental in preparing the program here.

It's 34 mins long, but you can safely skip the first 10 mins, and he doesn't start talking about the 'Ethics Pilot Course' (for NSW), commissioned by the St. James Ethics Centre, until the 20 minute mark.

It's worthwhile listening to the last 4 minutes as well, where he briefly discusses the success of a program introduced in an inner Brisbane school, which reported a drop in bullying, that the school claims is a tangible result of the course.

Regards, Paul.

dm said...

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

http://www.disclose.tv/forum/does-ath-ism-have-a-future-no-t19859.html




Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE


you're ANNIHILATED!


Atheists,

Repent and turn to God.


add comment moderation to your blasphemy blog, you fool...

DM said...

with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...


they PAY THE PRICE FOR ATTACKING THE SUPERNATURAL -

with their LIVES...


CRYSTAL NIGHT TONIGHT!

Anonymous said...

http://missionaryminded.blogspot.com/

Greg O said...

Stephen - interesting article in the new Fabian Review on 'The myth of inherited inequality', which ties in to some of your earlier posts on meritocracy and private schooling. Not online for another 6 weeks though I'm afraid.

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Greg...

Stephen Law said...

...and Paul. I know Cam a bit.

DM said...

the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…

they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

KABOOM…
______________________

with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...


they PAY THE PRICE FOR ATTACKING THE SUPERNATURAL -

with their LIVES...


CRYSTAL NIGHT TONIGHT!

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

visit:

http://www.clubconspiracy.com/forum/f30/does-ath-ism-have-future-no-11202.html#post66570




Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE


you're ANNIHILATED!

DM said...

Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker...

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

Randi:

When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist




the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…


they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

KABOOM…
______________________



with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...


they PAY THE PRICE FOR ATTACKING THE SUPERNATURAL -

with their LIVES...


CRYSTAL NIGHT TONIGHT!

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-8-Yxdphsg
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

visit:

http://www.clubconspiracy.com/forum/f30/does-ath-ism-have-future-no-11202.html#post66570




Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE


you're ANNIHILATED!


Atheists,

Repent and turn to God.

劉WileyMares said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical...................................................

Tom Morris said...

“I don’t see how having a small interest group coming into a school and ramping up things helps”

No, much better to just leave it to the big interest groups, like the churches...

coralline said...

Oh, Markuze. In a very special comment, you promised me death and torture (in that order?) a while ago on Pharyngula. May I have your promise once again that it awaits me? I've been waiting, breath bated, and not a twinge yet.