Ethical Dilemmas: A Model to Understand Teacher Practice

Apr. 02, 2011

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2011, 173–185.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors focus on the work of teachers, which they claim is heavily value-laden and therefore susceptible to ethical dilemmas.

The authors discuss a model of ethical decision-making in order to understand the nature of ethical dilemmas faced by teachers.

The authors propose a number of scenarios developed from real-life problems faced by teachers in Australian schools in Queensland. The authors use this model to help them understand the dilemmas and the forces surrounding them.

Discussion and conclusion

The authors identified several strategies that can be inferred from the literature and the analysis of the scenarios:

● sharing dilemmas with others such as seeking the advice of trusted senior or experienced members of staff;
● having institutional structures that put into place systems that prevent actions taking place that would be harmful to students or to staff;
● articulating one’s own personal and professional ethics and modelling one’s behaviour so that other staff are encouraged to act ethically; recognising an ethical dilemma and the multiple forces at play in it;
● educating colleagues about specific issues (e.g., the school code of conduct, conflict management); and
● developing appropriate preparation and support for teachers via professional development programmes.

All of these strategies heighten teachers' awareness about ethics.
Moreover, the authors believe that this model could be used to help teacher participants to articulate the dimensions of ethical dilemmas and the processes involved.

Finally, the authors claim that this article has raised awareness about the prevalence and nature of ethical dilemmas in teachers’ practice and also put forward a model that makes explicit the forces at play and dimensions involved in the ethical decision-making process for teachers.

Updated: Nov. 13, 2012