Flinders Primary Students Tackle World Issues at 2024 Ethics Olympiad

Nine students in Year 6 at Flinders Anglican College bravely competed in the 2024 Junior School Ethics Olympiad on Tuesday, 11 June.

In the weeks leading up to the Olympiad, the students trained together as a group to develop their skills in communication, critical thinking and respectful discussion.

Coached by Mrs Jill Kydd, the English Specialist in the Flinders Primary School, the students learned to prepare responses to significant ethical issues such as the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the art world, and to questions such as 'Is it ever ok to lie?'

On competition day, the students participated in a series of four heats via Zoom online with students from schools across Australia. 

The Flinders students who competed were Kalila B, Ryan S, Sienna dP, Lillian C, Sophia C, Yuna J, Mitch J, Nigel B and Hannah W; and Tom P was part of the training team. 

The students had to think through ethical issues together and engage in respectful discourse, demonstrating how to work together as fellow citizens in a complex moral and political community.

Mrs Kydd said the Olympiad challenged students to draw on the skills they have been developing in class, such as collaboration, creativity, risk taking and critical thinking.

“The Ethics Olympiad is a wonderful opportunity to build and test these 21st century skills beyond the classroom,” Mrs Kydd said. 

“Students enjoy meeting like-minded students across Australia and building confidence in exploring age-appropriate world issues together in a positive and supportive environment.”

Student Reflections from the 2024 Junior School Ethics Olympiad

The Flinders Primary School has entered teams in the Ethics Olympiad for the past three years; it's just one of the many academic enrichment opportunities open to students at the College.

Flinders students Nigel and Ryan said they enjoyed grappling with the ethical issues around AI-generated artwork.

“We had to discuss whether or not you can claim artwork that has been AI-generated by yourself, but where you have taken elements from other artists' work. Technology moves so quickly and it is hard to keep up on whether it is being used ethically or not.” 

Yuna and Sophie said the Ethics Olympiad experience taught them to keep an open mind and examine cases from various perspectives to ensure a balanced analysis.

Yuna said, “We also improved our ability to formulate solid, well-reasoned arguments and present them persuasively yet respectfully”.

Sophie said, “The competition required us to think on our feet and adapt quickly when new ideas and viewpoints were introduced. This enhanced our critical thinking and improvisation abilities. Overall, the Ethics Olympiad taught us to approach ethical issues comprehensively, communicate effectively and engage in respectful debate.” 

In an Ethics Olympiad, teams can agree with each other and so it is very different from a debate as each group must come up with the best response to a question. 

Flinders competed with schools including Hillcrest in Queensland, St Marks in Western Australia and St Michael's College in Tasmania. 

Caption: Year 6 students at Flinders training for the 2024 Ethics Olympiad.

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