Primary Ethics is bringing its free, two-day ethics teacher training to Port Macquarie in June and Manning Valley residents have been invited to be involved.
Ethics teachers are parents, grandparents, retirees and other community members who have an hour a week to spare to facilitate an ethics class at their local primary school. The classes support children to develop the skills to think things through and make well-reasoned decisions.
Upper Lansdowne resident Peter Gerhard first heard about Primary Ethics on a radio program in 2014.
“I have always been interested in children’s education, and as I had recently retired, I was keen to give back my free time to my community,” Mr Gerhard said.
After completing the induction and training process he began teaching a weekly class at Taree West Public School.
"The first volunteer ethics co-ordinator at the school, Kelly Wilson, worked enthusiastically with the principal Donna Bensch and staff – who were all very supportive - to get the Primary Ethics program up and running. Classes started with about 10 students and now about 100 are now in ethics classes rather each week, which is a much richer alternative to non-scripture.”
Ethics classes are available for students who would normally attend ‘non-scripture’ during the Special Religious Education (also known at some schools as SRE/SEE, or ‘scripture’) timeslot. For many children the alternative is sitting in the library and colouring in.
Mr Gerhard and colleague Greg Berry each take several classes each while a third teacher is enrolled to complete the training next month.
Other nearby schools, including Cundletown and Hallidays Point, also have vacancies for volunteers.
"During the training seminar you familiarise yourself with the specialities of the teaching material, teaching techniques and strategies for behaviour management.”
In ethics classes, children explore a range of stories and scenarios, discussing what we ought to do, how we ought to live, the kind of society we should have and what kind of person each of us should strive to be. There is age appropriate curriculum for children right through to year 6, all reviewed by the Department of Education.
The Primary Ethics program uses a unique, approved curriculum that contain stories and questions that volunteers use to facilitate the weekly discussions.
Children then use these skills when tackling everyday challenges, while preparing them for a future that is certain to be filled with a range of new and complex ethical challenges, such as we are seeing with the development of Artificial Intelligence, the prevalence of social media and fake news and factors such as genetic engineering.
"I would encourage anyone who has the time and the inclination to invest in our children’s education and well being to consider becoming a Primary Ethics teacher at their local primary school," Mr Gerhard said.
Ethics teacher training is also held in Coffs Harbour and Newcastle twice a year.
To find out more and to apply, visit primaryethics.com.au/volunteer