How do you teach good/bad & right/wrong?

Thursday, 17 November 2016
By Renee Kobelt
How do you teach good/bad & right/wrong? Can you teach ethical understanding without teaching students to care?

Why should I care? Who should I care about?

These are questions even adults have trouble grappling with! In our increasingly diverse society (and classrooms), developing an understanding of these issues is more important than ever. Building ethical understanding throughout all stages of schooling will assist students to engage with the more complex issues that they are likely to encounter in the future, no matter what path they take. 

Through the Australian Curriculum students develop ethical understanding as they "identify and investigate the nature of ethical concepts, values and character traits, and understand how reasoning can assist ethical judgment." This ethical understanding is both personally and socially oriented, giving students skills that will help them "manage context, conflict and uncertainty, and to develop an awareness of the influence that their values and behaviour have on others."

The Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) recognises that ethical understanding assists students to become ‘confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens’. It does this through fostering the development of ‘personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience, empathy and respect for others’, and the capacity to act with ethical integrity.

Integrating ethics into a real world topic:

Complex issues like poverty require responses that take account of ethical considerations such as human rights and responsibilities, environmental issues and global justice. By providing authentic issues for students to grapple with, we give students a forum to talk specifically about ethics and are able to equip them with authentic solutions so that they learn by experience what can be done to alleviate the injustice in the world. 

Through Just One Day students investigate thought provoking ethical questions like:

Why are rights important?
What happens when rights are not met?
What responsibility do we have for other people?
Is it fair that some children have so much and others don’t have anything?
What can we do to help other people?
How do we show that we care? Comments
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