An ethical choice

14 Dec 2009

The researcher behind the ethics course being introduced into some NSW primary schools, Associate Professor Philip Cam, will spend the summer finalising the questions behind the course.A close eye on ethics ... Associate Professor Philip Cam

The State Government has decided to introduce the classes as an alternative to religious education.

Ten state primary schools will be part of the pilot program, which will begin in the second term of next year. The classes will be offered to students in years 5 and 6 who do not take scripture classes.

"It's been an overwhelmingly positive response," says Associate Professor Cam, from the School of History and Philosophy. "We've had so many emails, handwritten letters and phone calls and so many people want to volunteer as facilitators for the classes."

"While some of the faith-based groups are worried about a drift away from religious studies, this course would only be for those students who do not already participate in scripture."

Some of the questions to be considered by students include the ethics of hunting elephants for their tusks, exterminating rabbits or testing cosmetics on animals.

"I'm still keen to see a broader study of philosophy introduced into all schools as a part of the curriculum, but this is a great start," he says.

Philosophy for school students is under consideration as part of the revised National Curriculum.

For further background on philosophy in schools, see page 14 of Uniken. (PDF)

See coverage of the story in the Sydney Morning Herald.