Submitted by Vice-Chair Stacia Leech
April 12, 2023
Ethics: We ensure an environment of mutual trust and respect though integrity and transparent processes.
As the board embarks on a review of our current strategic plan I want to reflect on one of our values – ethics, and to ask ourselves what do we mean by the statement that we value ethics? There are many interpretations about the meaning of ethics and ethical behaviour. There is ethical action, there are ethical practices, and how about ethical literacy. Are ethical perspectives that are grounded in theory different from those grounded in practical real-life applications? For example, what does the ethic of care look like, how do we recognize if it is present? One definition, that speaks to me, says that ethical care compels us to be proactively sensitive to another person, extending ourselves beyond duty and convenience to offer others our concern and attention.
In the 21st century, shared value systems cannot be presumed. In a globally-linked world, ethics and values cannot be approached as static. Contemporary educational leadership programs, such as the Compassionate Systems Leadership initiative, encourage our school leaders to embrace diverse ethical perspectives, to consider the ethical values of the system we work in and assist students to critically think about their own ethics; providing them with approaches to confronting questions and issues of values and ethics that transcend specific rights and wrongs in a changing political, social and economic environment.
Philosophers provide some understanding “if you teach students what is right, you will have to tell them again tomorrow, if you teach them how to discover what is right, they will find the way themselves”.
Ethics serve as a compass for individuals as we confront and approach moral dilemmas. This is particularly difficult when values compete with one another. A function of ethics is to help us avoid being swayed by emotions, personal interests, and beliefs, as we seek to choose morally sound responses to ethical dilemmas.
Parents and teachers know that children feel empathy and can act on behalf of others. Public schools are ideal institutions for preparing children to examine the ethics of decisions and to apply that understanding to the roles and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society.