Thank you for acknowledging the role of ethics in helping to avoid the misuses of power and practices that are harmful for children. You underline the importance of awareness of fairness and justice in our work with children and commitment to ethical behavior.best,
My concern about our ethics in field of ECE is we are not using them. The NAEYC's Ethics and the Early Childhood Educator, Ideals 1.1.2 states "To base program practice upon current knowledge and research in the field of early childhood education,…" In this current push down era of ECE we have the dilemma of doing what the mandate dictates in order to continue the funding. Why aren't we doing what is proven to be the best for children. In many instances it is the children who suffer and the teachers who becomes disappointed. This is a call to action. This dilemma is creating a stressful environment for both teachers and children. If we continue this course we will jeopardize our basic ethical responsibility of "doing no harm".
You ask the interesting and troubling question of why we arenʻt doing what is proven to be best for children based on the ideal of "basing program practice on current knowledge and research..."
Unfortunately, the NAEYC Code offers guidelines for those in the field who choose to follow it. It would be nice if those outside of our field knew about the Code and were inclined to follow it as wekk.
Sadly a great deal of policy in early education is created by people with little or no knowledge of the research base or best practices in ECE. P-3B.1 helps guide our thinking about how to respond when policies require us to act in ways that are not based on the field's current knowledge and research about how to provide children with positive opportunities for learning:
P-3B.1-We shall follow all program policies. When we do not agree with program policies, we shall attempt to effect change through constructive action within the organization.
But even as we follow mandated practices, we have a responsibility to work for change. This call to action is articulated in these two items from the Code:
I-4.7-To support policies and laws that promote the well-being of children and families, and to work to change those that impair their well-being. To participate in developing policies and laws that are needed, and to cooperate with families and other individuals and groups in these efforts.
P-4.11-When policies are enacted for purposes that do not benefit children, we have a collective responsibility to work to change these policies.
You're right that this mis-match between recognized best practices and mandated curriculum is stressful for both children and their teachers. Our Code provides a call to action for us to become involved in advocacy efforts to advance practices that are based on the field's current knowledge and research. We hope that you are familiar with NAEYC's advocacy materials, as well as those of Defending the Early Years, and that you are investing your time and talents on promoting practices that are beneficial for young children.
Thank you for raising this important issue.
Stephanie Feeney and Nancy Freeman
For the second week of our discussion of Ethics and the Early Childhood Educator please read Chapter 3: Addressing Ethical Issues. This chapter explores the difference between ethical responsibilities (mandates that tell us what we may and may not do, page 17) and ethical dilemmas (situations in which there are always two or more morally justifiable resolutions, page 19) and the strategy of ethical finesse (creative ways to resolve an ethical dilemma by finding a compromise, page 23). The chapter presents systematic strategies for addressing ethical issues in your work (See pages 21 and 27).
Have you found the concepts found in the book (ethical responsibility, ethical dilemma, ethical finesse) helpful for addressing ethical issues you have encountered in your work? How have you handled these issues? What questions do you have about the process for addressing ethical issues presented in the book?
Megan, we're glad that you have found ethical finesse to be a useful strategy for addressing ethical issues you've encountered in your work. And you're right that it is most helpful when resolving issues that require you to balance the wishes of the family with what you believe to be best for their child. That's why these are considered to be complex-client issues – early childhood educators have responsibilities to both the children in their care and those children's families. Resolving them can be a complex matter.
Chapter 5 of Ethics and the Early Childhood Educator focuses on our responsibilities to families. It includes several cases which have a good likelihood of being resolved through finesse. Look at the suggested ways to finesse the dilemmas presented in The Nap (begins on p. 52), Messy Play (begins on p. 58), Don't Let My Son Dress Up as a Girl (begins on p. 62), and Reporting Classroom Behavior (begins on p. 67), and review the Reflection on Complex Client Cases that begins on p. 76.
We are interested to know about how you (and others) were able to finesse an ethical dilemma you have encountered in your work.
Thank you to everyone who's contributed to this discussion. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 in Ethics and the Early Childhood Educator describe some of the ethical issues early childhood educators are likely to encounter that relate to their responsibilities to children, families and colleagues.
Did reading these chapters make you think about an ethical issue you have faced? Did guidance from the Code help you to address the issue? Please share an example. How do you think the increased understanding of the Code you gained by reading the book might influence your work with children, families, or colleagues?