Challenges to ethical
Schools and the people in them are caught up in a host of contradictions
and the inevitable conflicts between individual and group interests and
well-being. One would hope that teachers and administrators are well
prepared to deal with these contradictions and conflicts in steadfastly
fulfilling their educational mission. Unfortunately, they are not.1
In the thirteen years since Goodlad and his colleagues expressed this conclusion relating to the moral dimensions of teaching, very little has changed. Teachers continue to experience conflicts and complexities, dilemmas and tensions that strain and interfere with their sense of agency as both moral persons and moral educators. By undermining the moral agency of teachers, such challenges diminish the ethical knowledge of individuals and thus compromise the quest for a collective appreciation of ethical professionalism.
While the ethical teacher is, by necessity, an ethical person, as argued previously, the reverse is not necessarily the case. Even those of good character, will, and intention may fail to grasp how the moral principles they strive to uphold apply to the contextual realities and details of their daily professional practices. And, even those who possess a keen moral sensibility that enables them to make conceptual connections between their moral intuition and the demands of their professional work, may find in actuality that their actions and reactions become paralyzed by the uncertainty caused by tensions and dilemmas.
Some define ethical dilemmas as situations 'in which two or more courses of action (moral choices) are in conflict, and each action can be plausibly defended as the [good] one to take'.2 Conversely, others see ethical