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Professionalism, Education, and Ethics Code  

Troy A. Martin

The professionalization of education involves a modern, capitalist move toward securing a public market for schools and developing social status for educators. As a process that has produced knowledge, rationalized relationships, and controlled markets, professionalization of education has also defined an ethical discourse. Articulated in language, inscribed in state law, and embodied in conduct, professional ethics have been codified formally in “codes of ethics” and informally in professional identity and ways of thinking. The popular discourse of professional ethics in education narrows and constrains ethical possibility in practice. Because of similar forms of codes of ethics across professions, interdisciplinary scholarship from education, social work, psychiatry, and medicine informs a critical examination of professional ethics. The codes, discourse, and standards of professional ethics are historically grounded in the framework of modern rationalism. As the field of education has developed to include a more diverse knowledge-base and new forms of empirical research, the rational order of prescriptive ethics has begun to slip. While regulatory codes of ethics continue to undergird public trust and provide legal insurance against malfeasance, educational scholars and practitioners engage a wider constellation of ethical perspectives and possibilities. Feminist care ethics, post-modern ethics, and phenomenological descriptive ethics present a few possibilities within emergent fields. As the ongoing effects of professionalization are critiqued and the possibilities of professional ethics are re-imagined, schools of education should look beyond the disciplinary enclosures of education to respond to an increasingly diffuse understanding of professional ethics.

Article

A Cross-National Study of Ethical School Culture  

Orly Shapira-Lishchinsky

This study addresses a common concept, ethical school culture, in 30 countries. It presents and outlines its dimensions, based on an analysis of their codes of ethics for teachers. The findings generated a multi-dimensional model of ethical school culture that included six dimensions: caring for the pupils, teachers' profession, teachers' collegial relationships, parental involvement, community involvement, and respecting rules and regulations. The study indicated that “ethical school culture” generates from the interaction between the formal ethical aspects, such as educational policy that encourages high standards, and informal ethical aspects, such as ethical norms that perceive teachers’ role modeling as important for maintenance of the profession’s status. In addition, the findings elicited that schools with an ethical culture are not closed educational systems but rather open educational systems that ensure that knowledge will flow from the school to the community and vice versa. This flow of knowledge is in accordance with the ethical goals that advance equity and opportunity for all pupils. Moreover, the similarity that exists between the dimensions in this study and the dimensions in the corporate ethical virtues (CEV) model expand conceptual validity to the generated multidimensional model. In general, this study reveals that schools have an ethical culture characterized by a teachers’ active approach toward promoting their pupils’ ongoing learning and well-being, initiating collaborative learning with colleagues, and promoting parental involvement. This study generated the common meaning of ethical culture in schools, based on teachers’ interactions with colleagues, pupils, parents, community, and regulations. Understanding the meaning of an ethical culture in schools, can help promote ethical teachers, who will know what is expected from an ethical teacher and help promote an ethical culture in their schools. In addition, the findings of this study support the universal nature of the concept ethical school culture and provide deeper insight into the concept of ethical culture in educational systems. This study hopes to encourage the promotion of teachers’ continuing professional development, which focuses on the proposed six dimensions that can lead to a consistently applied ethical school culture.