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Ethic Reflection Ed 690 6/18/2013 Deidre Jenson When defining ‘ethics’, words and phrases such as morals, values

, standards, code of conduct, or belief in what is right and wrong, are often used. It is these values or standards that we must be confident in when choosing what is ethical in difficult situations. This task is not always easy, black and white, or clear cut. The task that was set before us in our ethical case studies was to help us understand our values, work through the process of delineating fact from perceptions, identify the problem and explore possible resolutions. The first element in ethical decisions is understanding values. If we are confident our own values, what we are willing to be flexible in and what we will stand firm in, it helps in this decision process. It also helps to understand the values of other people groups, cultures, and communities. These standards influence people’s behavior and their construct impacts their codes of conduct. The first step in making ethical decisions is to consider these values; yours and others have. Then you can create the construct and the context in which the dilemma is occurring. Through the creation of my educational and leadership philosophies, a deeper understanding was developed. I thought through more thoroughly about what I value in learning and what I value in leaders, as well as why. Numerous case studies forced us to reflect on these values. For example in the ethics case study, “There’s No Place Like School”, as a principal, we were challenged with the difficult scenario regarding special education and their placement in classrooms. It was presented that the more flexible teachers, who happened to be younger and newer in the field, were given the students with more challenges and one particular older, veteran teacher was firm in her stance that those students should not be in her class, as they would not be able to handle the rigor. In this case, it was important for us to recognize our values regarding special education students and the benefits of integrating students. This understanding of that value, would significantly change our options on how we would approach this dilemma. The second element that is important to consider is distinguishing the facts that are evident. There is a philosophy that ‘there are no absolute truths’. That statement in and of itself, proves it to be wrong. If that statement is true and you ask the question, “are you absolutely sure?” and you answer ‘yes’, then it negates the statement itself. There are certain truths in ethical cases. “What are the facts?” is the question to ask. It is in the presumption of facts that leads to difficulties in ethical dilemmas. What do you ‘know’ not think, what do you ‘know’, not hypothesize or what do you ‘know’, not feel is the truths we need to realize. Again, all the cases we studied required us to distinguish facts, however, one case in particular emphasized this key element; “Adult Fantasy Center.” This was a case regarding a teacher that was a silent partner in this adult store. The principal (as we were supposed to presume the part) stopped by the store for a gag gift, only to find the silent partner/teacher exiting a ‘curtained’ area, which had rumors describing this area as having illegal activities occurring there. As the principal, we were to look at what we know, not what we suspect; jumping to conclusions. We were encouraged to ask

questions regarding the facts, not assuming the worst and look at the findings of investigations regarding this facility, not looking at the charges. Again, if we were to look at rumors as fact, this would significantly impact our actions. Similarly, it is that element of perception that complicates the process of moral quandaries. It is in sorting out the facts from opinions or perceptions that is key in difficult decision making. That is why understanding facts are important; without the that understanding, a person will have difficulty recognizing perceptions. It is important though not to through out the perceptions, but recognize them. Perceptions of people sometimes should impact our decisions, but not without prioritizing standards that we deem to necessary to stand firm in. Like the previous case studied, there were many other cases that required us to consider not only our perceptions that may ‘taint’ our actions, but the perceptions of the community. “Drunkenness or Disease”, was a scenario regarding an excellent administrator for special education that reportedly had been caught drinking and driving and admittedly shared his difficulty with alcohol. He was to serve a sentence, but could be release for work and was willing to go to counseling and rehabilitation over the summer months. We had to consider the perceptions of the community, our perceptions of what constitutes ‘enabling’ as weigh them against what is best for kids (interrupting service for training new staff) as well as the rights of the teachers/administrators. There are times when we have to set aside our ‘perceptions of what would be ideal and do what is in the best interest according to the law.’ Reflection on the first three steps are important. Skipping any of those steps, increases the opportunity to make a decision based on reaction rather than careful thought and consideration. These steps will also help you lead to understanding what the real problem is; the next step in determining ethical solutions. The case “Aids and Age Appropriate Education”, which called into question education posters in the hall that had condoms on them. Identifying the real problem of age-appropriateness rather than thinking this is about ‘sex-ed’ and whether to teach it or not, directed the solution in a different manner, rather than deliberating about the curriculum which would be a much more complicated solution and probably escalate the issue. Finally, in this process, we were challenged to be divergent thinkers. Instead of coming to one correct solution, because we were looking at truths, considering perspectives and determining the real problem, we were able to come up with multiple possible approaches and after discussion, those possible approaches were able to be merged together to reach conclusion that would work for at least most involved. The case “Buddhism and the Caring of Animals”, was a case regarding the First amendment right of a protecting a student’s rights of religious beliefs and the board curriculum of predator vs. prey. There were a number of solutions that came from the discussion of this case, ensuring that we look for variables in solutions rather than one result. Studying these cases and many more, challenged me to dig deeper, wrestle with the problem at hand, understand perceptions and when we deem necessary to stand firm in our convictions to aid in peaceful resolution. Learning a step by step thinking process, has created a habit of mind that will ease the difficulty of making these decisions.