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Education How it is and how it should be. The current system and those attempting to subvert it.

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  #1411  
Old 2nd March 2015, 11:59 AM
stevebrooks stevebrooks is offline
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Default Re: School Chaplaincy

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Membrain said View Post
thanks for the info; I was hoping it would be clear cut but I still don't know if its OK. Unless its clear cut I am not willing to disturb the peace. I also think they would just make it a P&C activity if it wasn't legit for the School to do it and I can't readily see if thats OK or not either. It would fall below K$15 a year too, its a small school.
It can't be a P&C activity because P&C activities are limited to supporting he school and it's activity groups. In this case it's like the school raising money and giving it to the Church of Scientology or even political groups, the money is for the benefit of the church activities since that's an externally funded group, not the school activities.

But as you say, yes it's complicated, I suspect it would come out as being incorrect if it was challenged, funds raised by children at a school are supposed to be only for the benefit of the school, in this case they are funding a separate organisation altogether.

But yes it is complicated and would need advice from someone who knows.
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  #1412  
Old 3rd March 2015, 06:25 PM
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wolty wolty is offline
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Default Re: School Chaplaincy

Open Drum: The "conflicted" ethics teacher


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Given I was raised a Catholic I am a little conflicted about being an ethics teacher. But the absurdity of the system that teaches scripture forced me to act, writes Hugh Riminton.

I teach primary school ethics in NSW ... and I am little conflicted about it.

I was raised a Catholic, the solid Irish tribal variety. The education was strong on corporal punishment and obsessed with sin. As a child, I found it creepy rather than comforting that guardian angels sat on my shoulder and God knew and judged my every thought and action.

Leaving Catholicism was a painful wrench that lasted for many years. I missed the comforting promise of eternal life after death, the belief in a paradise awaiting and God's merciful reward for my (broadly) virtuous existence.

As I aged and travelled, I also found the Bible stories useful in unexpected ways. My first trip to Jerusalem, and every subsequent trip across the wider Middle East, was enriched by my grounding in Biblical history.


The parables and stories from both Old Testament and New are a peaty source of cultural commonality. Like reading Shakespeare for the first time, Biblical stories are reminders of things we learn from our elders before even realising where that knowledge came from.

If NSW public primary schools taught comparative religion, or the history of religious thought, or the cultural legacy of Christianity, nothing would delight me more.

But they don't.

The choice, when we moved from the ACT to NSW, was simple: scripture or non-scripture.

To help decide, I sought out the Catholic scripture teacher at my kids' school. She was a pleasant woman, a retired senior teacher from a well-known Catholic high school.

What would she be teaching her five-year-olds this week, I wondered.

"This week, I'm going to be telling them how God created all the animals," she replied, with a benign smile.

Something seized up inside me.

"Do you teach them that it is the traditional Christian belief that God created all the animals, or do you teach them that God created all the animals?"

"Oh, we're not controversial," she replied. "I simply teach them that God created all the animals."

Another scripture teacher told me that she started her five-year-olds with a lesson on how they were God's sheep.

"I get them to go around the classroom pretending to be sheep and then I read them Psalm 23."

The Lord is my shepherd, etc

All of this at a publicly-funded state primary school. Any kids opting out of scripture were required to waste their time. It is expressly forbidden for children doing non-scripture to learn anything useful - because that would disadvantage those children doing scripture.

That absurdity forced me to act.

I had some time in the mornings before work, so I volunteered as an ethics teacher. A few weeks later, after a police check and other formalities, including sitting in on an ethics class, I went to Parramatta for a two-day intensive training course.

My fellow teacher-volunteers were an interesting lot - smart, diverse and committed. The training was both intellectually satisfying and pragmatic.

I have now taught at two schools. I find the kids (I teach "Early Stage One" - Years 1 and 2) to be engaging, curious and switched-on to the ethical issues presented to them. The curriculum we teach is the result of extensive work by ethicists and educationalists. The themes themselves are carefully calibrated to be age-appropriate.

Ethics might seem an arcane subject, but children as young as five already have grappled with questions like "is it always wrong to lie," or judging when pride is a proper thing and when it is not.

The teacher's job is not to make judgements on right and wrong but to encourage questioning and reflection by the kids themselves.

The availability of ethics, as a subject, has caught on like wildfire at my kids' school. More parents are volunteering. Each class is full to its limits.

I think it is a great adventure. I am confident the children will be better for it. I hope with their well-trained enquiring minds, they will one day make up their own minds about the rich history of religious thought.
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  #1413  
Old 3rd March 2015, 09:48 PM
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joele joele is offline
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Default Re: School Chaplaincy

"I get them to go around the classroom pretending to be sheep and then I read them Psalm 23."

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  #1414  
Old 4th March 2015, 03:24 PM
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DanDare DanDare is offline
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Default Re: School Chaplaincy

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I think it is a great adventure. I am confident the children will be better for it. I hope with their well-trained enquiring minds, they will one day make up their own minds about the rich history of religious thought.
I used to accept statements about this "rich history" but I am finding more and more that, apon inspection its not much of a worthy topic. That the deeper philosophical traditions hold more value than all religious texts put together. Certainly kids should know about human religious history. Its informative. The content, not so much it seems.
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