The virtue ethics of the teaching profession is the “attainment of the highest standards of professional service in the promotion of learning” (Council, 2004). Paramount to this is the mindfulness of the holistic makeup of the student such as their abilities, culture and stage of development. This understanding is complex and requires collaboration with the students and their family as well as colleagues and the wider community in order for appropriate and robust learning programmes to be fully developed and utilised.
Four fundamental principles govern our teaching profession.
- Autonomy – treating people honourably and responding their rights
- Justice – ensuring power is shared and not abused
- Responsible care
- Truth – with self and others
It is also our responsibility as New Zealand citizens to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi, elevating the interests of Maori in recognition of their status as Tangata Whenua.
Adherence to this ethical code of conduct involves our commitment to the learner, the parents and whanau, to society and to the profession. Above all else is the commitment to and nurture of the student and their learning capabilities to ensure they are best prepared to think and act independently and become informed and appreciative of our values in this democratic society. Relationships need to be professional and respectful, with students, whanau and colleagues. This necessitates active involvement on our part, through respecting confidentiality, honesty and others’ rights to be informed and involved in decision making.
It is also our responsibility to understand up to date pedagogy through continued professional development, in order to best cater for students’ diverse needs. This includes promoting hauhora, or the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing and developing additional critical thinking learning opportunities. It is our responsibility to best prepare the students for the rapidly changing and unknown future that lies ahead of them.
We have a responsibility to our New Zealand and global society to prepare students for their society in the broadest sense. This includes presenting balanced views, actively promoting equality and cooperation in modelling the democratic ideas of our society. As professionals, we contribute to promote both sound educational policy and an open and reflective professional culture. Although we show respect and confidentiality toward our colleagues, it is also our responsibility to speak out if this code is breached.
The teaching profession influences the nation and its citizens. Every effort needs to be made by each of us to ensure that the virtue ethics of attaining the highest standards possible are met. Adherence to this code is essential for all teachers and its presence allows for action if this is not shown.
Council, N. T. (2004). Code of Ethics for Registered Teachers. www.teacherscouncil.govt.nz: Education Council, NZ.