Ethical Capability seminar

This 2.5-hour seminar introduces teachers to the why and how of developing students’ Ethical Capability, as outlined in the VCAA F–10 curriculum. Different versions of this seminar are available for primary teachers and for secondary teachers.

During the seminar we look at what it means to live an examined life and make conscious and rational ethical choices. We discover why this can’t be achieved with absolutist (‘appeal to authority for the right answer’) attitude, nor with a relativist (‘all opinions are equally right and true’) attitude – and we discuss what sort of attitudes are actually conducive to making and evaluating deliberative moral judgements.

The seminar includes an exploration of the goals, ethos and methods of ethical enquiry in school classrooms. We offer an introduction to using constructive collaboration, together with respectful disagreement, to achieve non-competitive argument – or what’s been called ‘friendly excursions into disequilibrium’.

Along the way, we investigate some key elements of ethical decision-making. We look at recent psychological research into the foundations of our moral intuitions, and the difficulties – as well as the benefits – of engaging in reasoned argument with people whose views challenge our own.

We also explore a variety of moral frameworks emerging from the history of philosophy, and address what to do when our basic values are in conflict. As a group, we tackle some difficult moral dilemmas, and investigate the kinds of cognitive dispositions that are needed to address them.

The seminar includes plenty of practical examples, including video footage of students engaging in nuanced conceptual enquiry and developing criteria for moral judgement.

Please contact us for further details and bookings.

“The ideas [about] different ways of thinking were very new to many teachers … but as you applied the ideas to practical ways to help children to explore their thinking, and then married this with philosophical terminology, everything suddenly fell into place. The overwhelming feeling was that staff were very impressed and excited… [The seminar] inspired many to re-evaluate how they question children, and how easy it is to get into the rut of just ‘delivering curriculum’. Thank you for igniting the interest of our staff and for inspiring us to pursue this subject further.”
Jacqueline Clement, Assistant Principal, Birralee Primary School