Archive for the ‘Ethics in the Classroom’ Category

Why Isn’t There a Proper Alternative to Religious Education?

July 9, 2012

Whilst I am not Christian, I strongly disagree with those who are trying to eliminate religious education programs from our public schools. We have had a tradition of offering religious education as an elective class at public schools over many years and I see no reason to change that.

One issue that does perplex me is why schools haven’t been able to schedule a real alternative. Ethics classes are not the answer because unlike religion which one either subscribes to or not, ethics is someones version of what is moral and just (I may disagree strongly with what someone believes is ethical).  Free time is also not a solution either. It sends the wrong message at school to provide free time when children continue to struggle with their basic skills.

I believe that extra maths and English classes should be scheduled at the same time as religious education classes. This would ensure that those who aren’t religious have a real and worthwhile alternative to R.E. lessons.

Although I think this Queensland mother has overreacted, I can see her point:

A Queensland mother has accused the state’s education department of discrimination, claiming children who opt out of religious instruction classes are left disadvantaged.

Tricia Moore, who has filed an anti-discrimination complaint, said she was contemplating taking the Department of Education, Training and Employment to the state’s civil tribunal.

She said the department had failed to provide a proper alternative for children who opted out of religious instruction, with students instead left to sit in corridors or carry out meaningless work.

Supreme Court Gives Permission for Teachers to Have Sex With Students

April 2, 2012

I don’t care if the student is 18 or 80, a teacher has no place engaging in sexual activity with a student. It is inappropriate and immoral, and should at the very least cost the teacher their job. A teacher can not properly conduct a classroom when they are intimate with one of their students.

I am very disappointed to read that an Arkansas Supreme Court decided it is okay for teachers and students to have sex, as long as the student is 18.

The ruling is in response to an appeal by David Paschal, an Elkins High School teacher found guilty of having consensual sex with an 18-year-old student.

State attorneys argued the law protects high school girls and boys from sexual advances by teachers. But the high court says regardless of how it feels about Paschal’s conduct, they can not abandon their duty to uphold the law.

Therefore, Paschal will have his convictions reversed and dismissed.

At a local high school baseball game on Saturday, parents reacted to the news.

“These teachers should know better because there is a difference when you are being a teacher and a friend; and somebody that is having sex with your students,” said Denise Colson.

Amy Dardenne added, “If the child wants to have sex when they are 18 with their teacher, that is fine. They are adults at 18, so they might as well do what they want to do.”

It’s unclear whether anyone in the legislature will attempt to rework the law. A spokesperson for Governor Mike Beebe says it is way to early to talk about any kind of response from the State Capitol.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says his office respects the court’s decision, although they disagree with it and are evaluating all options.

It is not”fine” for an 18 year-old to bed their teacher. It is tantamount to a breach of trust on the part of the teacher. That teacher is bestowed with the responsibility of grading impartially, treating each student fairly, being a good role model and responsible citizen.

None of which can be said of a teacher who has sex with a student.

In my opinion, a high school teacher who is found to have been engaged in a sexual relationship with their student should be imprisoned for their actions.

Click on the link to read How Can a Child Sex Lobby Exist in the First Place?

Click on the link to read Should Classrooms Be Fitted With Surveillance Cameras?

Click on the link to read Teacher Orders 20 Classmates to Beat Up Bully

Let Our Students Think For Themselves

September 14, 2011

Be very wary of a teacher with an agenda.

Teachers have opinions – that’s a given.  They have beliefs about religion, politics, etc.  But teachers do not have the right to use their classroom as a platform for spreading their convictions.  Teachers must allow their students to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

Unless the school is a private religious school or the subject is Bible Studies a teacher does not have the right to deviate from the curriculum to canvass their religious beliefs.  That is why the Supreme Court in the U.S. got it absolutely right when they handed down a ruling that disallowed such a practice:

Saying a high school teacher has no right to “use his public position as a pulpit,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a San Diego County school district was on solid legal ground when it ordered a math instructor to remove large banners declaring “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE.”

Those inscriptions and others that longtime teacher Bradley Johnson displayed on his classroom wall amounted to a statement of religious views that the Poway Unified School District was entitled to disavow, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the appellate panel said, government employees, including public schoolteachers, have no constitutional right to express views in the workplace that contradict their employer’s rules or policies.

“Johnson took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon the impressionable and captive minds before him,” said Judge Richard Tallman in the 3-0 ruling, which reversed a lower-court decision in the teacher’s favor.

The district “acted well within its constitutional limits in ordering Johnson not to speak in a manner it did not desire,” Tallman said.

The two banners, each about 7 feet by 2 feet, contained references to God from U.S. documents and patriotic songs. One quoted the Declaration of Independence passage that all men are “endowed by their CREATOR” with unalienable rights.

If Mr. Johnson wanted to inspire his students to respect or even adopt his religious beliefs he should have disposed of the signs long ago and instead tried a far less invasive strategy.  He should have concentrated on being a role model, acting with integrity, commanding respect from his students and making a good impression.
He may have had some or all of those character traits, none of which required cheesy signs.  The best way to make someone follow in your footsteps is to lead by example not creating loud billboards.


The Ethics Debate

November 22, 2010

For the past few years there has been much debate about the place Ethics classes have in Primary school education.  There has been resistance from religious groups on the basis that it is competing with formal RE (Religious Education lessons) for numbers and government funding.  Proponents of having ethics instruction in our government schools claim that people have a right to choose what is the best for their children, and that non-religious students are better off having an alternative program rather than just sitting out of RE and taking part in an unstructured lesson (basically consisting of free time or watching a movie) instead.

In a new law about to be passed in NSW, parents will have the right to ethics classes as an alternative to scripture in their child’s school even if the principal and the majority of the school community opposes them.

A Baulkham Hills parent, whose child participated in the trial, said: ”The majority of parents, ethics teachers and children at our school found the ethics classes an enriching complement to the many good SRE [Special Religious Education] classes on offer”.

However, many of those opposed were concerned about ethics competing with scripture classes.

”Ethics is already taught in other forums in state primary education and should not be allowed to attract students away from meaningful faith-based studies,” wrote one.

Whilst I am not opposed to have Ethics lessons taught at our schools, I would like to make the following points:

1.  I would like to see RE and Ethics material being submitted to a curriculum board for approval.  Everything taught at school must be rich, stimulating, engaging and subject to curriculum style scrutiny.

2.  Every teacher should, and most do, invest time in their day-to-day teaching, imparting ethics by teaching their students right from wrong, helping them to make healthy choices and showing them how to maximise their potential.  The idea that students without an Ethics program at their school are is some ways missing out on ethics instruction is just wrong and disrespectful to hardworking, caring teachers.

Is the RE vs Ethics debate prevalent in countries other than Australia?  What is your opinion regarding the validity of ethics instruction?

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