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Reason and Emotion: How Teachers Respond to Ethical Problems
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2018 (English)In: Abstract Book: 20th Annual International Conference on Education: 21-24 May 2018, Athens, Greece / [ed] Gregory T. Papanikos, Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), 2018, Vol. 20, p. 133-134Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Teachers frequently face ethical problems in their everyday practice, ranging from pedagogical choices affecting their pupils to pressing conflicts that need to be solved – e.g. conflicts between pupils, conflicts between colleagues, and conflicts between teachers and parents. In order to handle such problems, teachers need to be able to respond in a professional and thoughtful manner to the various ethical aspects involved.

Given the centrality of the ethical dimension to the teaching profession, it is an important question how teachers tend to approach ethical problems within their profession. To the extent that teachers fail to approach such problems in a professional and thoughtful manner, this is an issue that should be brought to attention and considered by teachers and within the teacher education.

Few studies have been carried out regarding how teachers tend to approach ethical problems in their profession. However, there are interesting international studies revealing how people in general tend to respond ethically to situations involving ethical aspects that evoke strong emotional reactions. Jonathan Haidt has constructed several more or less provoking examples involving social taboos, and investigated how people tend to react when confronted with them (Haidt, Koller & Dias, 1993).

The present paper is based on a survey of Swedish teacher students for which we have borrowed two of Haidts examples. These examples were chosen on the basis that one of them clearly represents a social taboo in a Swedish context while the other does not. Hence, letting the teacher students respond to both these examples allows us to get an indication of whether there is any significant difference in their response to an example evoking a strong emotional reaction as opposed to a more neutral example.

We present our investigation and discuss the results, which show that the respondents in the more neutral case generally seem to make motivated judgments and in the more provoking case generally seem to rely on gut feelings. If these results can be taken as an indication of how teacher students and teachers tend to respond to real life situations, we argue, they generally have good chances of approaching ethical problems in a professional way. However, a provoking or emotionally laden context enhances the risk of making ethical choices which are not based on professional reasoning.

We argue that these results indicate a need for teachers and teacher students to consciously reflect on their values and methods for approaching ethical problems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), 2018. Vol. 20, p. 133-134
Series
Education Abstracts ; 20
Keywords [en]
Moral education, Ethics education, Social Intuitionist Model, Jonathan Haidt, Ethics and education, Teacher ethics, Moral reasoning
National Category
Educational Sciences Ethics Philosophy
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-148438ISBN: 978-960-598-185-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-148438DiVA, id: diva2:1213814
Conference
20th Annual International Conference on Education
Available from: 2018-06-05 Created: 2018-06-05 Last updated: 2018-06-09

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Abstract Book 20th Annual International Conference on Education

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Samuelsson, LarsLindström, Niclas

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