Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 27, Issue 1, Pages 21-28. (January 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this paper, the author reviews a set of articles on ethical and moral matters in teaching and teacher education previously published by Teaching and Teacher Education.
The author used the following research questions to organize this review:
1. In what sense is teaching an ethical and moral enterprise?
2. What is the nature of the ethical and moral conflicts confronting teachers and how do they think about them?
3. What must teacher educators do?
4. Reflection on what, for what?
In conclusion, the author returns to the questions used to organize this review.
(1) In what sense is teaching an ethical and moral enterprise?
Nearly all the authors assume that teaching is essentially and fundamentally a moral enterprise.
The authors also note that ethics are at the heart of the teacher’s disciplinary knowledge. These authors argue that to teach is to be embedded in a world of uncertainty and of hard choices, where what a teacher does and how he or she thinks is morally laden.
(2) What is the nature of the ethical and moral conflicts confronting teachers and how do they think about them?
Conflicts among values, norms, and beliefs, pervade teaching, some originating in the way in which teaching is structured and in how authority is understood and enacted and in the sometimes competing interests of teachers, students, and their parents. Teachers understand and respond to these conflicts differently. Based upon a wide range of life experience, patterns are apparent in how teachers respond to moral dilemmas, indicating differences in levels of moral and ethical sensitivity and understanding.
(3) What must teacher educators do?
There is agreement that while limited, both pre- and inservice teacher education can facilitate development of moral understanding and ethical sensitivity among teachers. Case methods appear to be an especially promising means of promoting ethical and moral development among teachers, although how a case is understood varies.
To facilitate case analysis teachers need to be taught and understand a set of specific concepts like due process and develop a rich moral vocabulary, which too few possess.
Moreover, they need to be coached so that their reflection on moral matters gains in power; since there is strong agreement that ethical and moral development among teachers is hard won.
(4) Reflection on what, for what?
The authors argue for the value of reflection directed toward a range of teaching practices and teacher qualities, from “manner” to their values.
Also, while most of the studies focused on how individual teachers understand and confront moral dilemmas, there is awareness of the importance of attending to how the informal or hidden curriculum of a school, not just a classroom, shapes moral understanding and of the need to build and sustain schools as moral spheres.