Notes: Ethics & Education 1: Intro – teaching is “moral by nature”

The notes I made for this introduction to the Ethics and Education course are brief because we spent some time looking at the course outline, which I’ve included in these notes (it’s so exciting!). Our discussions explored the idea of teaching as being “moral by its nature” and the range of ethical dilemmas and decisions we face daily in our roles. We also looked briefly at the Finnish education union’s ethical principles, which you can read yourself here.

Ethics and education introduction – Teaching is moral by nature – Seminar 2.9.16 


Fri 2.9. 12:30-14:00 Introduction

Fri 9.9. 12.30-14.00 Ethics, main questions and concept

Fri 16.9. 12.30-14.00 Ethics and education

Fri 23.9. 12.30-14.00   Approaches of teaching ethics

Fri. 30.9. 12.30-14.00   Fishbowl discussion: Philosophy and ethics

Fri 7.10. 12.30-14.00 Ethics of research with young (immigrant) children

Wed 12.10. 12:30-14:00 Human Rights as global values?

Fri 14.10. 12:30-14:00 Human right systems in UN, Asia, Africa, America, Europe

Wed 19.10. 12:30-14:00 Non-discrimination and equity

Fri 21.10. 12:30-14:00 Non-discrimination and equity, problem tree


Fri 4.11. 12.30-14.00 Ethical standards, Code of conduct for educators

Fri 11.11. 12.30-14.00 Ethical standards, Code of conduct for educators

Thu 17.11. xxx The place and role of values in Education

Thu 17.11. xxx Cultural values

Fri 18.11. xxx The use of cultural values in Education

Fri. 18.11. xxx Ethic values versus aesthetic ones

Fri 25.11. 12:30-14:00 Anti-discrimination presentations

Wed 30.11. 12:30-14:00 Intercultural competence as an ethical orientation

Fri. 2.12.  12.30-14.00   Diversity and equity, transformative actions

Fri. 9.12. 12.30-14.00   Values: “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” values, Peace Education


First three lectures will give us foundation of questions and theory for fishbowl discussion on Friday 30 September.

Discussions a central part of the learning in this course. Encouraged to be thoughtful and respectful in these conversations, but it’s a problem if we are always thinking too cautiously about having different ideas to others or clashing perspectives. Aim for constructive debate, keeping the balance so that we can have rich discussions.

“Teaching is moral by nature” – we have to do this moral reasoning in the classroom all the time as part of our role, e.g.

  • Discipline and reward system – don’t kill natural enthusiasm and empathy for others
  • Relationships with students – communication, respect, collaboration, student voice, fair
  • Understanding education concepts – awareness of variations in understanding, Southern and Eastern voices needed, opening up narrow understandings

Assessment – even standardised, isn’t harmful at university level and can be helpful at upper secondary, but the harm of it increases the younger we go, especially when streaming and tracking are part of the equation.

Shared stories where we had to deal with ethical dilemmas in classroom or educational settlings, what happened, how we reacted and how we feel about our responses upon reflection now.

In Finland

Codes of conduct and ethical guidelines – Finland doesn’t have a code of conduct, but the teachers’ union OAJ has made the ethical guidelines based on key principles.

Very few instances where teachers are fired, though a case in news at the moment about a female teacher having sexual relations with students. A couple in past for violent behaviour, but this is extremely rare.

Teacher union – voluntary but most teachers are members. Takes good care of teacher benefits and conditions. Can be little problematic. Finnish teacher have 24 hours a week teaching and 2 of extra curricular. Unions very strict about it so it can make it difficult to have meetings to organise and plan etc.

Discussed how we deal with natural (and human) connections with some learners more than others → professionalism, structure, empathy, understanding why some behave as they do, fake it till you make it, giving them praise when they act well rather than always ragging on their bad behaviour, giving them opportunities to shine etc.

Example of Ontario’s ethical standards:

  • Care
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Integrity

But these above from Ontario are mostly focused on students’ ethical development – what about teachers?

Equity needs structures. You can’t always believe and trust in people’s (incl educators’) good will and morals

Reading for course: Purpel, David E. (2004). Reflections on the Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education.

Also recommends Nussbaum, Edward Said, Sandel, Sen, Sennet, Zizek among others.

AND some full-text books and articles on Ethics and Education found here in Questia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s