Do parents these days expect schools to teach their children everything so nothing needs to be taught at home.  We have seen an increase of sex-educations classes being taught in younger and younger classes, we have seen classes on “bringing up baby” for teenage students and now in one state the introduction of “ethics classes”.  Once upon a time all these things were taught by parents in the privacy of the home.  Sex education was discussed with the children when the parents thought appropriate and as for “how to look after a baby” this lesson was often taught by looking after ones siblings — but not discussed in the context of a single teenage mum or dad. Parents had a choice about the delivery of these “lessons” and knew that they would not be overridden by the school their child attending.

The new ethics classes are being introduced as an alternative to religious classes* in public schools and covers such topics as fairness, bullying, the importance’s of telling the truth, animal rights and questions about life and death.   The course is being taught to children aged 9 to 12 and runs for 10 weeks (but if considered successful will be run permanently in schools) and taught by volunteers from the St James Ethics Centre.   According to the Ethics Centre:  “the overarching aim of the course is to ‘provide a secular complement for the discussion of the ethical dimension of students' lives’.

As it will be run concurrently to religious classes (which is voluntary) the ethics classes will contain no religious component —this is where I struggle, as a Christian I cannot discuss or understand the issues of truth or lies, being kind to others, life or death without the scriptures.  Morality isn’t part of the course.

Some of the questions the children need to consider include:
  • The moral rightness or wrongness of an act of lying.
  • We shouldn’t kill harmless creatures’ or If we have to kill (pests, say, or animals for food) we should do so painlessly?
  • It’s not wrong to use animals for human purposes (for example as guide dogs) if it is good for both humans and animals.
  • Are there any circumstances in which graffiti is perfectly acceptable?
What do you think of these new classes?  Do you think they are the responsibility of parents and not the school/education system?
This raises the question of the role of schools and what they should be focusing on.  But it would appear that more and more topics are being taught in the school that were once the responsibility of the family.  As a result the days are very full and nothing can be taught in any great detail.

 * Around 50-80% of students do not attend religious classes in New South Wales (one of the states of Aust.).

For those interested, here is the final report on the New South Wales Ethics trial:

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  1. Well one thing I know is, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and His word has not changed. As christians we know the responsibilty that God has given us as parents and I definitely believe it is the parents role to train and equip their children in the way they should go. We also know we don't live in a Christian world and the God of this world keeps sneaking his way into children more and more. The school system is not a godly system,so these types of classes are to be expected. xxx

  2. Just one more example of the government trying to fill in the gap where parents have no time to.

    Interesting article here Jo and I agree with your thoughts. Really, this is just one more reason why children don't really grasp maths and english too well these days because, as you said, too many other things are being crammed in it's place.

  3. Sorry, Jo. This is why we now homeschool. Enough meddling from people with no moral centre & a secular worldview.

  4. Jo, I heard of these about six months or so ago when they first started trialling them - I agree it seems like a lot of parents mustn't be doing what's necessary for the govt to have to step in or maybe it's that the parents are expecting more of this thing from the govt when it was our responsibility before...all to say I dont like the idea of them at all because for one I think it's going to drag some kids away from scripture classes (the kids that get sent there but come from non-christian homes) to ethics clases and secondly as you say how can you explain morality if you take God out of the equation? doesn't make sense to me!

  5. We were fortunate and neither of my boys were taught these types of classes, these things are relatively new. They also had a very bad habit of skipping "health" class, which was part of PE (Physical Education) and as a result missed most of the sex-education classes as well. In the state we lived in (during their primary years) there was no religious education classes either.

  6. Joyfulmum - that is my question, how can you teach any of this with out the scriptures eg life and death and as you say morality. What do you tell them - you die and thats it I assume.

  7. Christians don't have a monopoly on morality, lots of things I don't agree with are done in the name of religion that aren't moral or right. I have very high morals and have taught my children the same without religion

  8. A recent morning tv news program was discussing a poll which showed parents wanted schools to teach "manners". If the children don't understand commom courtesy how will they know the rest? And if God is removed from the equation then all that's left is 'relativism'. Sin beomes a non-issue because you can change your views on right and wrong according to your current situation. If ethics are going to taught, who's are they?! Who sets the boundaries if not God?!

  9. Trisha - if parents want manners taught at school, what have parents been doing for the first five years of their childs life. Not teaching manners? I hope my sons starts school with a solid set of manner. It is all a worry.

  10. As a home schooler I would have to vote that it is the parents job and agree that God's Word is the basis of our morals/ ethics. Your anonymous commenter may well have good morals, but it is the Lord's restraining hand only that causes people to choose good as the natural heart of man is wicked continually. How can one make an ethical decision without a world view to base it on?

    Just have to ask. Who from my era remembers the Mothercraft books we did as a project. Year 9 I think. I am OLD :-)

  11. Yes Ruby!! I remember them well! I did love cutting out all the pictures from magazines... that was my highlight from the whole thing lol!

    Trisha's comment is spot on!

  12. No Ruby I know nothing about the mothercraft books! Your comments are quite correct.

  13. So interesting to hear what is happening in other parts of the world. I hear all of it around me, but I have home schooled for 22 years, still anything that happens in the schools affects us all.

    Thanks for sharing....more to think about as I pray about how to educate my last two, age 14 and 4!

  14. Jo,

    It appears to me that public schools are attempting to teach subjects that should be clearly taught by the parents. Are the parents in approval of these changes? If so, that is frightening because I don't understand why a parent would want someone else to train/raise their children when that responsiblity should soley be theirs, especially if the parents are Christian.

    It is because of these types of changes that people decide to homeschool their own children. I know that if my husband and I had children, we would homeschool them because we would not want government schools to do the job that God has granted to us.


    -Lady Rose

  15. A young mother from my church who was in college studying to be a teacher stated that in one of her child education courses she learned that the city is trying to introduce a book to kindergartener's about a pair of male penguins raising a baby penguin. The undertone is quite obvious. I was appalled at hearing this.

    As parents it is our responsibility to train our children in the ways of the Lord. It is not the church's or the school system...the responsibility is ours.

  16. Sadly, what Sydney says is happening in many places. My teacher friend has come across such books being introduced to small children in the state system. Gay marriage is being promoted as a 'norm'. I recall the ABC Playschool program received complaints some years ago for reading a book on air which had same sex parents. Homeschooling is a very valuable alternative if families are able to go that way. It was a blessing for us when our boys were younger!

  17. There is a number of books Trish on gay marriages aimed at school age children - so children think it is normal when they meet a child who has gay parents. And sex-education is now being taught with younger children, whereas a few years ago it was only aimed at high school students. Fortunately my sons missed all of this when going through school.

  18. This is what happens when a country and/or society removes God from the center. Or just removes Him completely. I hardly think a government should be the arbiter of ethics, since they have such poor track records themselves. This is true for the UK and the US, too. And again, if Christ were in the home, these things would be dealt with at home, as they used to be. Frankly, to me it seems like a form of institutionalization. Why do we want the government discerning right from wrong for us? It all becomes very arbitrary and relative. I prefer to use the Bible as my standard, and keep God at the center of my home. What a sad situation society finds itself in nowdays.


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