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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Education in Civics for Secondary School Students

Pam Laird wants Civics in Secondary Schools

Thinking back on the unpleasant juxtaposition of ‘Values’ (or lack of them) and 'Politics’ during the run-up to the recent election, it would appear that New Zealand is sadly lacking in the teaching and understanding of acceptable communal ‘thought and action.’

Somewhere along the way in the last fifty years or so, the previous home teaching of consideration for others and awareness of behaviour on the streets or play-ground seem to have been lost.

We now have citizens from 213 ethnic groups in this country, each one of them will have a different slant on what is desirable citizen behaviour. Therefore it seems to be imperative that for lack of such teachings in many private homes a single code of ethics be taught in schools.

I believe there is a base for this in primary schools, long may it last.

In Athens, Socrates (circa 469BC) taught the true meaning of justice and courage. He also taught critical thinking skills in order to open the minds of his students to other ways to view society.

Then there was Plato, (437.) Among other things he taught philosophy. He spoke of ideas, ideals, senses, the soul, pleasure and much more. If the Greek philosophers of the day developed a wise and stunning nation from their early thinkers, including Aristotle who taught metaphysics and logical thinking, why cannot our young have such topics included in their curricula?

There are also more modern thinkers such as Albert Schweitzer, Elizabeth Anscombe (1958) and Bertrand Russell.

Schweitzer Quotes:

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.


One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.


The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.

Why are our NZ educationists so frightened of enlightening the secondary students of our schools? A huge base already established is available on which to establish tried and true moral principles. Then, should our rights as citizens be compromised, we are fortified with the knowledge, integrity and confidence to stand tall and question such incursions into our belief systems.

According to,  ‘Civics Education in NZ’ there are ……… Quote:

Links to the curriculum

Civics Education has links to the social sciences curriculum. The ideas for teachers provide a framework for further development for students to gain the knowledge, skills and experience outlined in the achievement objective.

These activities, and the content on the website, may align with other big ideas /concepts, such as human rights (Level 5), social justice (Level 6), and government (Levels 5 -8).

The activities could be adapted to suit the needs of students working at levels 3-4 of the New Zealand Curriculum.

My heart sinks at the line ‘may align with other big ideas,’ ‘could be adapted,’ etc. How wishy washy is that? When are we going to teach pride and backbone in this country so never again are we high-jacked by ‘a walking mound’ out to bring the government to its knees?

Pam Laird

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