Monday, 3 October 2016

With great power comes great responsibility...

Photo credit:
In the last week of term 3, I had asked my class for quiet for further instructions by saying "Fingers on lips".  This came from a TV programme I once watched, and I have a quiet chuckle to myself when my class follows the instruction (so far it has always worked).  After I had given the instructions, one of my Year 6 boys came up to me and said it looked like the class was picking their noses.  We both had a laugh, until I said, "If I asked you to do that, you probably would" to which he replied quietly, "Yeah, we probably would." Although it was a joke, it made us both stop and think...

Hall (2001) states that "teaching in school has long been considered a moral activity" and that teachers have the ability to influence young people (p 1).  This brings up an interesting question - whose morals are teachers following?  Every family, culture, nation has their own moral code that they follow, so in the day-to-day running of a classroom which morals do teachers follow?

In New Zealand, the Education Council has set up a Code of Ethics for all certificated teachers to follow.  There are four fundamental principles that govern professional interactions of teachers:

  • Autonomy
  • Justice 
  • Responsible care
  • Truth

Also, the Code of Ethics states four ways to apply these principles:

  1. Commitment to learners
  2. Commitment to parents/guardians and family/whanau
  3. Commitment to society
  4. Commitment to the profession
These guiding principles are there for teachers to use to remind themselves of what there commitments are.  They can be used to help those who find themselves in an ethical dilemma, as the code states how the obligations can be fulfilled.

Ethical dilemmas are, by definition, full of conflicting thoughts and ideas.  As an educator we are faced with a multitude of ethical dilemmas.  We are in loco parentis to a large group of children.  We have the responsibility not only to educate them in the content of the curriculum, but to educate them socially as well.  This in itself becomes an ethical dilemma - should teachers be responsible for responsible for students social skills?  

An ethical dilemma that most schools and educators are currently facing is how to educate students within an online world.  Which sites are most appropriate?  Should students be on YouTube?  Should students be using social media?

It is important that teachers take in consideration parents/guardians opinions, but also the commitment to the learners in your class/school.  This is a huge responsibility.


Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certficated Teachers. Retrieved from

Hall, A. (2001). What ought I do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane.  Retrieved from

photo credit: Clint Hamada With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility via photopin (license)