Primary ethics classes at Hallidays Point Public School

Ethics teachers Brian Crowther, Josh Crowther and Mellissa Hammond with year three students Zahara Clarke, Sienna Bell, Charlie Maligin, Solomon Hiley and kindies Zara Crowther, Adma Pursch, Ella Whight and Abby Yelavic.
Ethics teachers Brian Crowther, Josh Crowther and Mellissa Hammond with year three students Zahara Clarke, Sienna Bell, Charlie Maligin, Solomon Hiley and kindies Zara Crowther, Adma Pursch, Ella Whight and Abby Yelavic.

Local father and son duo Joshua Crowther and Brian Crowther have recently been certified as ethics teachers for primary public school students.

“I felt the calling to ensure students have been exposed to ethical dilemmas in order to expand their mind, apply reason to form opinions and to consider multiple opinions,” Josh, a lawyer based in Taree, says.

The pair completed a two-day training regime, coupled with previous online exams, and will start teaching ethics at Hallidays Point Public School next semester. In addition, Josh is the ethics co-ordinator for the region. They join the existing ethics teacher Melissa Hammond, who was the inaugural ethics teacher at the school.

Josh’s dad, Brian, has been a primary school teacher for almost 50 years and is now semi-retired.

Hallidays Point Public School began teaching ethics to students last year but there has been an enormous response by parents to the program with the effect that there weren’t enough teachers to teach students.

The admission of Josh and Brian as ethics teachers should help remedy that deficiency brought about by a growing numbers of parents who have decided to opt their children out of scripture studies at the school (known as SRE – Special Religious Education).

Complex ethical issues, such as human and animal rights, fairness and inequality, and tolerance and respect, are taught in an environment which encourages the children to listen, respectively disagree with others, and provide their opinions without judgement.

“Guidance is the key,” Josh says. “Actually, we’re not teachers, but facilitators. We don’t teach the children anything – we simply draw the children’s attention to ethical issues and problems which they navigate themselves”.

The syllabus is age-relevant. Kindergarten classes use stories, poems and rhymes in a substantial way to elicit ethical issues. Issues covered over the primary curriculum include curly ethical issues such as selfishness, how we should treat living things, promises, greed, friendship, harm, cheating, voting, punishment, homelessness, teasing and fairness in society.

Students are encouraged and supported to make their own judgments about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad and to explain why, using evidence and reason.

All primary ethics classes are based on this approach as distinct from blind appeal to authority or moral relativist approaches.

“The kids learn to infer, generalise, structure arguments, listen, respectfully disagree, identify incorrect conclusions and faulty reasoning and evaluate the strength of evidence,” Brian says.

“As a teacher for many years, I think the course is fantastic and I wish the course was around when I was a kid and when my kids were kids. I really think the course helps create a generation of rational-thinking, ethical people”.

For more information on primary ethics, visit www.primaryethics.com.au or email Josh at joshuskhan@hotmail.com.