Special religious education vs. philosophy based ethics in Australian primary schools

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    Since 1866, all state schools in New South Wales (NSW) have been required to offer courses in religious education. However, in 2011, NSW schools introduced philosophy based ethics classes as an alternative to these courses in religious education. Controversy ensued. Detractors of the religious education courses accuse them of indoctrination, discouraging students in processes of critical thought. Conversely, detractors of philosophy based ethics class accuse them of encouraging moral relativism. Some families choose to opt their children out of both the religious education classes and the ethics classes. Among this group of parents, some are concerned that the religious education doesn’t reflect the views of their particular faith, while the ethics classes are too atheistic. This case, Special Religious Education vs. Philosophy Based Ethics in Australian Primary Schools, explores the competing claims of supporters of religious education and supporters of philosophy based ethics, as well as those unhappy with both options. How should state schools teach ethics and moral reasoning? How should they approach the relationship between religiously and secularly grounded ethics, especially in light of diversity in religious belief?
    Original languageEnglish
    Typecase study written to be used for teaching purposes
    PublisherJustice in Schools
    Number of pages5
    Place of PublicationCambridge Massachusetts USA
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2018


    • religious education
    • ethics education
    • philosophy in schools
    • teacher education

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