Carlingford Public School pupils have had plenty of food for thought since ethics classes were introduced for them almost two years ago.
The school has run classes in years 1 to 6 with enough parent interest to form a kindergarten ethics class too.
They are now confined to years 5 and 6 until more volunteer teachers are found.
Principal Neil Hinton said the subject was an alternative to scripture and encouraged critical thinking and listening skills.
"The teachers aren't allowed to teach a lesson during non-scripture [sessions] so the kids would just bring a book along or busy work," he said.
"There was not a lot of learning happening in that time, so the offer of ethics is a great alternative.
"Citizenship is a big part of primary education and the ethics program goes a log way to getting kids to become good school citizens and good citizens out in the big wide world."
Talking in ethics you can say what you really mean. Everybody gets input.Ariane Fouracre, 9.
Jacinta Rowe, the school's ethics co-ordinator, took on the role after her son decided he didn't want to do scripture.
"Having a child sitting for 40 minutes a week doing nothing in non-scripture was untenable for me," she said.
Volunteers need to be able to commit 30 minutes each Thursday during school term.
The emphasis is on teaching "how" and not "what" to think.
"Ethics teachers have a very strict script that they follow," she said.
"You move through questions. The kids don't want to know your opinion, they get so engrossed in their discussion.
"A good ethics teacher sits back and lets
the kids talk among themselves.
"Sometimes it goes completely of topic — once we were talking about rainforest deforestation and somehow ended up in Iceland with chainsaws building igloos — and you let that go for a little bit then bring them back [to the question]."
Year 5 pupil Oscar Maron said the next topic his class would discuss was fatalism, including if, how and when life is predetermined.
He said any new teacher needed to be "someone who can listen to other people".
WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY:
Ariane Fouracre, 9, year 4:
‘‘Talking in ethics you can say what you really mean. We talk about boasting and lying and lots of other topics. Everybody gets input — it’s not like the teacher leading the lesson. They don’t have as much control over us as they do in the classroom because we get to say what we really think.’’
Oscar Maron, 10, year 5:
‘‘Ethics is fun. You learn a lot of new things and basic life skills. We’ve learnt not to be greedy, the difference between lying for good and lying for bad reasons, also different people’s beliefs and how that comes into play in the world around us. We’ve learnt to respect each other and other people.’’