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Values in Education and the Ethics of Working with Children Prof. Margit Sutrop University of Tartu, Centre for Ethics Tartu, 24th April 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Values in Education and the Ethics of Working with Children Prof. Margit Sutrop University of Tartu, Centre for Ethics Tartu, 24th April 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Values in Education and the Ethics of Working with Children Prof. Margit Sutrop University of Tartu, Centre for Ethics Tartu, 24th April 2013

2 The aim of the paper My paper will endeavor to show why more attention needs to be paid to ethics in SiS activities. I will show why it is imperative that practitioners of SiS activities reflect critically on values and become conscious of the requirements of ethics.

3 Outline What is ethics? Values in education Every person who deals with children is a values educator What does it mean to be ethical? –Does it mean to be aware of ethics? –Does it mean being ethical? –Does it mean behaving ethically?

4 What is ethics? Ethics deals with values and virtues, with good and bad, with right and wrong. It affects what we say or leave unsaid, what we do or what we don’t do, who we are and what we value. Anyone who thinks about what he or she ought to do is, consciously or unconsciously, involved in ethics. Ethical practice has higher aspirations than law, which often only sets minimum standards.

5 Ethics in education 1) Value-free education is an impossibility 2) It will have severe consequences if we don’t deal with values 3) The kind of education we strive to give mirrors our understanding of desirable virtues. „We must have some concept of the kind of person we wish to produce, before we can have any definite opinion as to the education which we consider best.“ (Bertrand Russell, On education)

6 Forming the students’ comptencies The European Union agreement - Key competencies for life-long learning ( European Parliament and the Council, 2006) is based on a joint understanding of the kind of human being we should be raising. Key competencies involve a mobilisation of cognitive and practical skills, creative abilities, and other psychosocial resources such as attitudes, motivation, and values appropriate to the context.

7 Education gives orientation According to the humanistic understanding education helps the individual to build connection with the outside world (Wilhelm von Humboldt) To get orientation we need: knowledge about the world (biological, technological, cultural, and social world) knowledge about oneself (what I am good at, what are my strengths and weaknesses, what I’d like to do, what do I want to achieve) and self-confidence.

8 Every teacher (read: practitioner) is a values educator Ethics permeates every aspect of education (methods of teaching, feedback, the manner in which teachers and colleagues relate among themselves etc) Consciously or unconsciously, every person who deals with children shapes the children’s virtues by being a role model for them to follow, by making them aware of their own values, as well as by giving them feedback about their behaviour.

9 Three meanings of values 1)values are objects of desire (things, conditions, or circumstances that people desire and esteem, or that they fear losing) 2)values are virtues, that is, behavioural inclinations instilled through practice that have become habitual. 3)values are the principles that we take to be the basis for our actions, and that we use as such.

10 Values education should motivate students to seek clarity about their own values direct students in reflecting upon their own values and those of others shape certain behavioural inclinations or virtues help students making socially responsible decisions based on ethical principles and understanding their consequences, as well as rationally justify their actions.

11 Teachers’ task as values educators It is in the power of teachers as values educators to spur students to become conscious of their values, to give them skills in reflecting upon their values, and to discuss and support students` moral development, the emergence of their own personal code of values. Therefore teachers should engage in critical reflection on which values they pass on and cultivate in their students.

12 The Values Game for Teachers

13 Ethical aspects Objectives – why? Methodology – how? Societal implications – with what effect?

14 Regulatory background UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 3): In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. The Council of Europe’s Strategy for 2012-15 “Building a Europe for and with Children” Promoting child-friendly services, eliminating all forms of violence against children, guaranteeing the rights of children in vulnerable situations, promoting child participation.

15 Underlying ethical principles Beneficence and non-maleficence, (avoidance of exploitation) the best interests of the child must be primary consideration Respect of individual autonomy Justice and avoidance of discrimination and stigmatization

16 Ethical analysis of the objectives  Objectives related to the interests of the society: The economic argument (“Our society needs the talents and ideas of all our young people”) The institutional argument (There are too many obstacles and barriers to inclusion, access to higher education)  Objectives related to the interests of the child: Equal right to education (“ALL children should have the chance to be in touch with science”. Right to develop one’s talents: “It is our responsibility to make children, whatever their background, aware of their educational opportunities and to support them to realise their potential.”

17 How? Ethical issues of methodology Recruitment of participants (freedom, fair inclusion/exclusion criteria) Consent and choice (consent of parents/legal guardians, assent of children) Data collection (protection of privacy) Avoid possible harm (psychological stress, stigmatization etc)

18 Ethical and social implications We enter into the lives of children and begin to change their lives, incl their relationships with their families. This is a huge responsibility. Well-being of child, not to cause stress (incl avoiding raising false expectations). Psychological support How far do the obligations of the researchers go? What if the children will face conflicts in families? What if they will feel left alone after the end of the project?

19 Thank you for your attention! E-mail:

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