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The Unethical Dilemmas Of Teaching: Ethical Conflicts In Teaching

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Ethical Conflicts in Teaching by Gunnel Colnerud

This article discusses the ethical conflicts that teachers might face. The research was conducted by asking teachers in the Swedish compulsory schools to give in reports on any ethical conflicts they have been through regarding their students or colleagues. These reports were then organized and categorized, enabling them derive helpful information that can be useful to teachers.

One of main ethical teaching conflicts mentioned by the teachers is ‘protecting the students against harm’; this ethical conflict can influence the teacher’s decisions in telling the truth or confronting a situation if a student isn’t performing well or is having trouble at home. Also respecting
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This is more of a moral conflict as students with learning difficulties suffer when taking the standardized tests even if they put a lot of effort into it. Also ‘protecting pupils and the social norm of loyalty to colleagues’, this dilemma occurs when the teachers don’t know if they should confront a colleague for mistreating a pupil or ignore what’s happening as it’s easier and won’t cause any problems. Another conflict is when teachers are criticized if they’re too committed and like to plan activities and trips for students. Some teachers become less willing to do such things as it will lead to criticism from their colleagues.

‘Respect for autonomy’ and ‘fairness’ towards students are other ethical conflicts faced. Respect for autonomy looks at the students’ rights in making decisions regarding themselves such as what they prefer eating or whether they want to participate in class or not. Some teachers are forced to break their own ethical codes to follow the schools rules and norms. Fairness is regarding how teachers divide their time and help the students, whether equally between all or mainly on the ones that need it the
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When it comes to giving a low grade, even though it may not measure each student fairly, altering grades also isn’t fair to the other hard working students. As for getting them in trouble, parents may reprimand their children but it will also make them work harder. As for the personal aspect such as worrying if a student is being harmed at home, it is the teacher’s job to know what’s happening and ask if the student is alright. Some may say that questioning the parents about it is what is right and some may say respecting their privacy is right. It all depends on the severity of the situation. The appropriate ethical thing to do would be to talk to the parents or inform the principle since ignoring such things may lead to more harm in the
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