While pretty much everyone agrees that it’s important to live according to what’s right and to avoid acting in a way that’s wrong, not everyone always agrees on the what’s right or what’s wrong in any given situation. A code of ethics is personal and different for each individual. It determines an individual’s response to a particular situation and also accounts for the varied responses exhibited by different individuals in the same situation.
An individual code of ethics comes into play in everyday situations that teachers experience, such as when an influential parent asks for special favors for his child, while dealing with an impudent student or an impertinent remark, while dealing with colleagues, or at any point while performing the daily duties of the job. All actions and responses are a function of a personal code of ethics, which is the foundation for differences in teachers’ styles of dealing with students and school-related situations. A well-defined code of ethics will help you negotiate difficult times during the life of your career. It allows you to decipher the right thing to do based on your current perspective and to take responsibility for and stand by your decisions.
Another ideal to be realized in the process of abiding by your code of ethics is to make quick and prudent decisions. Teachers should not delay ethically correct decisions for long periods of time before putting them into practice. If your code of ethics is strong, you should be able to make decisions on the spot and have the conviction to bear the consequences. Too much pondering or hesitation takes the impact out of even the soundest ethical decisions.
Ultimately, the way you respond to what you believe is right and wrong provides insight into your code of ethics. And that’s why a personal code of ethics is not a stringent, formulated code. You can approximate and set guidelines for yourself based on what you think is right and depend on these guidelines to solve dilemmas and complex educational situations. Individual codes of ethics are not formal codes laid out by organizations and institutions to be obligatorily adhered to by their members. They are intangible moral guidelines that individuals appropriate on their own.
The Profession of Education: Responsibilities, Ethics and Pedagogic Experimentation
Shannon Kincaid, Ph.D.
Philip Pecorino, Ph.D.
The art of teaching is to teach, to teach well and to teach even better.
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As an example of a code for educators consider that of the American Association of Univerity Professors (AAUP). http://www.aaup.org/publications/Academe/2002/02JF/02jfrow.htm
Statement on Professional Ethics
The statement which follows, a revision of a statement originally adopted in 1966, was approved by the Association�s Committee on Professional Ethics, adopted by the Association�s Council in June 1987, and endorsed by the Seventy-third Annual Meeting.
From its inception, the American Association of University Professors has recognized that membership in the academic profession carries with it special responsibilities. The Association has consistently affirmed these responsibilities in major policy statements, providing guidance to professors in such matters as their utterances as citizens, the exercise of their responsibilities to students and colleagues, and their conduct when resigning from an institution or when undertaking sponsored research. The Statement on Professional Ethics that follows sets forth those general standards that serve as a reminder of the variety of responsibilities assumed by all members of the profession.
In the enforcement of ethical standards, the academic profession differs from those of law and medicine, whose associations act to ensure the integrity of members engaged in private practice. In the academic profession the individual institution of higher learning provides this assurance and so should normally handle questions concerning propriety of conduct within its own framework by reference to a faculty group. The Association supports such local action and stands ready, through the general secretary and the Committee on Professional Ethics, to counsel with members of the academic community concerning questions of professional ethics and to inquire into complaints when local consideration is impossible or inappropriate. If the alleged offense is deemed sufficiently serious to raise the possibility of adverse action, the procedures should be in accordance with the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, or the applicable provisions of the Association�s Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
1. Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.
2. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student�s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.
3. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas professors show due respect for the opinions of others. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.
4. As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.
5. As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.
@copyright 2004 by S. Kincaid and P. Pecorino
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