School curriculum for grades 7-10


Ethics at the Nelson Mandela School

Importance of the Subject Ethics

Ethics is taught at Berlin schools from 7th to 10th grade. In the 10th grade, students can take the presentation exam for the Mittlerer Schulabschluss in ethics on a topic of their own choice.

Ethics is an exciting subject that encourages students to think about moral and social problems and promotes independent judgment. The importance of the subject is increasing because orientation for young people is becoming more and more difficult due to our increasingly complex society, which is characterized on the one hand by an ever greater pluralization of ways of life and on the other hand by increasing individualization.

Ethics instruction is of great importance for the character formation and personality development of the students. By inviting them to take different perspectives on the solution of a problem, ethics education increases their capacity for empathy, abstract and analytical thinking, and critical reflection. It also plays a major role in their language development, discussion skills and media literacy.

It mediates between different religions and cultures by encouraging them to recognize, compare and also critically question their norms and values. According to the Berlin Senate, the subject of ethics "focuses on dialogue between students from a wide variety of backgrounds with the goal of: living together peacefully, thinking together about values that hold our society together, getting to know what is foreign and also finding familiarity and common ground in it [and] developing respect for others."

Ethics is a non-denominational subject, i.e. it is taught in a religiously and ideologically neutral way, but not in a value-neutral way. Human rights, as they are also anchored in the German Law, form an indispensable reference for ethical reflection, since they are to be regarded as a necessary and reasonable basis for social coexistence.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy. According to the Berlin Rahmenplan, it is "characteristic of the philosophical approach to problems [...], to question what is seemingly self-evident and to subject prejudices that underlie everyday thought and action to critical examination. In doing so, philosophy, as a universal science, takes into account the findings of all sciences." The latter underlines the importance of teaching ethics.

Lesson Content

The subject areas of ethics are outlined in the curriculum with the terms 'identity and role', 'freedom and responsibility', 'law and justice', 'man and community', 'action and morality' and 'knowledge and faith'.
In ethics classes, classical philosophical questions (e.g. Do we humans have free will?) as well as current problems of society (e.g. on economics and the distribution of resources, on issues of discrimination against certain groups and on gender issues, on ecology and environmental protection, and on scientific ethics) are discussed. The Nelson Mandela School's internal curriculum, in coordination with the school program, includes topics such as "Discrimination, Violence and Tolerance," "Conflicts of an Individual in a Dictatorship," and "Love, Friendship and Sexuality." The framework curriculum ethics prescribes three perspectives from which the respective problems or questions are to be considered:

  1. Individual perspective: what does the lesson topic mean for one's own life?
  2. Social perspective: What does the lesson topic mean for social coexistence?
  3. Perspective on the history of ideas: In what religious, ideological and cultural-historical context does the lesson topic stand?

Teaching Materials and Methods

A variety of teaching materials and methods are used in ethics classes at the Nelson Mandela School. In addition to the textbook, current journalistic texts, pictures (caricatures, paintings, etc.), films or film clips, reports, song lyrics, poems and learning videos are used. The lessons also include excursions to extracurricular places of learning, discussions with experts and workshops (e.g. from the school network "Schule ohne Rassismus - Schule mit Courage").:

The main methods include the analysis and definition of terms, coherent and cogent argumentation, analyzing and evaluating the argumentation of others, visualizing trains of thought, grasping the core thesis of a text and summarizing texts, conducting thought experiments, creative writing (e.g. writing fictitious letters, diary entries, dialogues, etc.) and constructive discussion and debate with others.


As in other subjects, such as German, personal beliefs are not assessed in ethics classes. Instead, assessment is based on subject knowledge and acquired competencies. These include mastery of the methods mentioned above, as well as conceptual clarity, appropriateness of wording, and relevance to the subject matter.


SenBJF Berlin: Rahmenlehrplan Teil C Ethik, hier (12.2.21).

Short English summary available here, pp. 29-30.

SenBJF Berlin: Kurz-Info Ethik, hier (12.2.21).