Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Ethics Classes

The ethics class was introduced into NSW Public Schools to address the discriminatory policy which stated that children not attending Special Religious Education (SRE) were to be taught nothing. I hope Rev Fred Nile would oppose such discrimination whether it be by gender, race or creed.

Now the classes are running, and the churches find they had nothing to worry about because they didn’t lose bums on seats, (and for no other reason they were arguing before the introduction of the classes). Rev Fred Nile will lead a parliamentary inquiry into the ethics course in NSW primary schools, which he believes is a ‘fraud’. He says parents don’t understand the course and its implications.

I think he will find parents do understand. They understand their children were discriminated against.

If Rev Fred Nile believes he has the right to interfere with the ethics course, why is he not also looking into all the other courses offered during the SRE timeslot? Is he concerned with the curriculum for Buddhism, Islam, Judaism? Would that help make public schools more inclusive and encourage respect for diversity? Does he disapprove of teaching children critical thinking in Literacy, HSIE and PDHPE? Is he concerned about the content of the ethics course? I could remind him that it is in SRE that children are taught about stonings for adultery, virgin birth, crucifixion, child sacrifice, and hell, but I don't have the right to criticise any SRE curriculum. I have the right to not enrol my child in that course and to attend ethics class instead. Is it helpful to call any SRE curriculum a ‘fraud’ or is the point of SRE, and the ethics class and the public school system that we can all live and work and learn together even though we have different beliefs, so long as we respect those differences and acknowledge our commonalities?

I think the inquiry will find that children in ethics are given an opportunity to think, just as they are in other classes at NSW primary schools, and there will be no action taken. The inquiry is just a waste of time and money.

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