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The Ethical Teacher Essay

1972 words - 8 pages

Reflection is a necessary component of everyday life, as well as the growth an individual makes within their profession. This concept remains true for teachers who, due to the particular changes they must make in order to meet the fluctuating needs of both their students and society, are perpetually connected to reflection. Beginning with John Dewey, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, numerous scholars have articulated their viewpoints concerning the positive and negatives impacts of this reflective teaching, in addition to its influence on the moral dilemmas faced by educators. One of these people, Elizabeth Campbell, asserts her perspectives throughout her text, The Ethical Teacher, wherein she describes the relationship between ethical knowledge and moral agency, the link between moral dilemmas and ethical knowledge, and the methods of lessening moral tensions in education.
Within her book, Campbell (2003) maintains that “ethical knowledge relies on teachers’ understanding and acceptance of moral agency as professional expectations implicit in all aspects of their day-to-day practice” (p. 3). These demands of moral agency are important for students’ learning and development. Consequently, it is essential to understand moral agency. Campbell (2003) declares that moral agency “relates to the exacting ethical standards the teacher as a moral person and a moral professional hold himself or herself to” and “concerns the teacher as a moral educator, model, and exemplar” for students (p. 2). Throughout the text, Campbell explains that teachers must be aware of, understand and accept those demands of moral agency. Furthermore, Campbell (2003) opposes the notion that educators’ ethics “remain embedded in the background of [their] practices,” while endorsing the idea that ethics must “be brought forward, made visible, discussed, debated, and exemplified for all teachers” (p. 7). Though I acknowledge the value of active reflection, in terms of moral agency, I believe that most educators subconsciously become aware of, understand and accept the demands of moral agency. Concurrently, Karl Hostetler (as cited in Campbell, 2003) conveys ethics to be “the background project…teachers are continually searching for…and being responsible to” within their everyday activities (p. 7). Over time, most teachers acquire the ability to subconsciously evaluate their teaching so as to ensure that they are meeting the demands of moral agency. Campbell (2003), notwithstanding her initial statements, expresses her opinion that the preponderance of reflective assessments are “often instantaneous, seemingly involuntary” (p. 28) and “effortless and spontaneous” (p. 48), yet they are capable of producing “unintentional outcomes…of greater moral significance…than those that are intended and consciously sought” (p. 38). Throughout the course of a school day, reflective educators are able to distinguish the positives and negatives of their...

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