What Ethics?

17 July 2011

Until a couple of years ago, it was illegal in any school in New South Wales to provide lessons for children not attending Religious Education.  Those children just read or watched films.  Then the NSW Government said that Ethics classes could be introduced for the excluded children. 

The churches were up in arms.  At first, because they were concerned that parents would take their children out of the religious classes now that an alternative was on offer.  They were apparently right in their prediction.  Then the church leaders complained that it was discriminating against the children who attended religious classes because they were excluded from Ethics classes (strange argument I thought – don’t religious classes include Ethics?)The new Premier of NSW promised to abolish the Ethics classes but reneged when he became Premier. 

However, he counts on the support of the Shooters’ and Fishers’ Party (yes, there really is such a thing) and he has now agreed that restrictions on children owning firearms will be lifted and more schools will be supported to give firearms lessons to the pupils.

I hope all the children learning to shoot are either taking special note of the “Do Not Kill” part of their religious education or are paying particular attention in their Ethics classes.


  1. I learnt to shoot at school from the age of 13 – was accompanied by a healthy education about how to deal with firearms, etc. Was actually quite good in the context of kids coming across a hidden firearm and having some understanding of the reality of them, as opposed to what they see on TV and emulating that. Certainly generated lots of healthy respect for what they could do and exactly how dangerous they were.

    Very different place and time (South Africa in the 80’s), and i certainly don’t support the idea that under 12’s should be able to buy air rifles (i was once chased round the garden by a friend with one, and they hurt like hell!) – but in a formalised school environment, shooting lessons may have some value

    (BTW my read of the article is that Barry ISN’T supporting the lowering of restrictions on kids owning firearms, but is happy to look at the school stuff – but maybe i’ve read it wrong)

  2. Blimey!

    Seems to me the argument for it being a useful thing is predicated on there being a good chance of finding a firearm hidden or something.

  3. Efficks? That’s sowff of Lonnun, innit?

    • Nah – it;s NORF of Landan.

  4. I’m a target rifle shooter and knitter. (There, that’s my bias declared!) I started to learn target shooting at 14, which was the minimum age allowed by law in NSW at the time.

    It’s a sport that requires a lot of self discipline, mental strength, physical strength, fitness, flexibility and concentration. Also, one heck of a lot of maths. I didn’t go to a school that had a shooting team, but I am familar with schools that do. Learning to shoot at a motionless paper target is a very different skill set to hunting: I’ve never used a firearm to kill a living creature. Target shooting also requires a completely different skill set to ball sports, and it allows males and females to compete on an equal footing.

    I hope kids are learning in ethics class. But I think the big bruiser of a kid who plays rugby needs as many ethics as the kid on the target rifle team.

  5. My daughter leads one of the ethics classes at her local school – she was asked by the school if she would do it when the original person dropped out. She had to attend a university devised training course over a number of days and there is always a teacher in the room with her. On the first day, the children whose parents had nominated them for the sessions turned up – along with a whole other lot whose parents just sent them – a chaotic start for the first day but it all went well. They are now looking for another ethics teacher to cope with the demand.

    I’m not biased, of course, but any child who is lucky enough to do these sessions with my daughter is privileged – I couldn’t think of a better person to lead them.

    When my children were at school I didn’t want them to be indoctrinated by a particular religion. I approached the Education Department about taking a class on comparative religion for them in the scripture period – OH NO!! What a bizarre thing to ask – who did I think I was? I wasn’t a “proper” scripture teacher ….

    It’s hard to believe that in a secular society and supposedly secular education system, that scripture is allowed to be taught as opposed to comparative religion. An understanding of comparative religion as a subject would go a long way to helping these kids understand the world as they grow up. And ethics is essential.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: