Seven
Learning to create an
ethical culture

Ethical knowledge as professionalism: extending the community

Throughout The Ethical Teacher I have argued or implied at least four central points concerning ethical knowledge. First, it seems clear that some teachers as individual practitioners possess a keen awareness of their role as moral agents, their own intentions and actions as they reflect moral principles or virtues, and the complex nuances of teaching from the seemingly mundane to the more obviously exceptional that are infused with moral and ethical significance. Second, if the consciousness of such teachers about the elements of their practice as moral expressions not only of individual character but also of practical expertise could somehow be made more visible, ethical knowledge could be shared and augmented among members of the larger teacher culture. Third, such an extension of teacher knowledge throughout the community of practitioners could well provide an applied knowledge base that could rival any other special body of teacher knowledge as the principle-based foundation of renewed professionalism in teaching. Teachers would be marked as professionals not solely for their technical competence, their mastery of subject matter, or their pedagogical success, but by the wisdom and humanity they reflect in the day-to-day realities, dilemmas, and challenges of assuming responsibility for other people's children and the hope of future societies. Fourth, it is ethical knowledge, not idealized codes, that most aptly defines applied professional ethics for the benefit of teachers themselves and for those to whom they are morally accountable.

This chapter extends these points in a focused appeal to teachers, individually and collectively, to take hold of themselves in the name of

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