Media Release – 30 September 2015

Is it OK to lie sometimes?

Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) launches report of trial of ethics classes in Victorian state primary schools

Melbourne, Australia – A quick glance at the media shows us that lying and deception are all around us – think VW, politicians and 7-Eleven. In this globalized, corporatized world where numbers and the bottom line are paramount, we must maintain our moral compass and make ethical decisions. And nowhere is the ability to make ethical decisions more important than in our children – the future responsible citizens of our world.

Today, the Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) launches the report of a trial in which trained volunteers facilitated ethical discussions with grade 5/6 children in Victorian state primary schools. Children in the ethics classes deliberated over big topics such as honesty, fairness and responsibility. The classes were facilitated using the Community of Inquiry method espoused by Dr Philip Cam, an international authority on ethics in schools. In this method, the children are taught how to think rather than what to think. Differences in opinion are welcomed and the children are encouraged to listen to each other before forming their own opinion as to what is right and wrong. Dr Cam will be presenting at the launch, at the State Library Theatrette from 6 pm today.

The report demonstrates that children are indeed capable of engaging in ethical inquiry and greatly appreciate the opportunity to both form and express their opinions. Volunteers, trained by the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools (VAPS), created the appropriate environment for ethical discussions and the school community supported the initiative. At the launch, HSV will be calling for volunteers to support teachers to facilitate collaborative ethical discussions in the classroom in 2016, and to contribute to helping children approach the moral dilemmas they will inevitably encounter in life in a reasonable and thoughtful fashion.

For further information, a copy of the report or requests for interviews, contact:
Cathy Warburton, Co-ordinator Community of Ethical Inquiry, Humanist Society of Victoria Inc.
Phone: 0457 024 733
Email: cathy.warburton@optusnet.com.au