Notes: Ethics & Education 4: Fishbowl discussion – Why are ethics important in the teaching profession?

Yesterday we moved all the furniture around to set up for a fishbowl discussion based on the introductory seminars (see earlier Ethics & Education posts for background). We had five chairs like a panel at the front, with the rest of us acting as the audience. The only people who could speak were those on the panel, and if others wanted to contribute to the discussion they have to sit at the front also. The chairs were hot-seats with four people beginning the panel, leaving one chair empty and waiting for another participant from the audience. By the end of the 90 minute session just about everyone in the class had spent some time on the panel, posing questions, answering others, describing experiences and debating points of difference.

The notes I took are a mess, but as you can imagine it was impossible to write down everything that was being discussed, especially when I was in the panel myself! Some key points covered were: whether we need codes of ethics, role of legislation, religion and spirituality as ethical guides, society’s expectations, universality of values, dealing with diversity, conflict between personal and professional ethics, transmission of ethics and the need for transparency.

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Notes: Ethics & Education 3: Why is being an educator an “ethical profession”?

Ed logo 1.jpgIn these seminars we looked at metaphors in common images about the role of education and those who provide it, such as the central place in humanity, torch to guide and enlighten, global connection, literacy, peace and hope, working together etc. ed-logo-2

We also discussed what constitutes a “profession” and compared the teaching profession to others, and the value placed on them.

We explored some fascinating questions about education being value-laden, our extra responsibilities as we’re dealing with children who are always more vulnerable than adults, managing relationships with other partners  involved (such as parents, school admin, Ministry), how we as teachers are models for our students whether we like it or not, what happens when our personal ethics conflict with professional ones, whether the transmission of values (whose values?) is our responsibility and how best to do this, the hidden curriculum…

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Notes: Ethics & Education 2: The role of moral consciousness in identity and the “self”

Unfortunately I was unwell for the first seminar on this topic, but I was able to catch up on some of the ideas discussed in the Zhou and Biesta reading about Confucianism vs the Reflexive Project of the Self in lifelong learning was fascinating. In class we explored the ideas of good vs bad and the development of the moral consciousness, the relationship between professional/legal/personal ethics, action vs inaction, and global ethics.

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Notes: Comparisons of EdGlo countries’ education systems

The cultural knowledge and varied experiences brought by the international students is what makes this Education and Globalisation master’s programme so unique. While the programme itself is comprehensive and the lecturers are knowledgeable and thought-provoking, much of our learning comes from each other.

The 20 people in our class come from 19 very different countries:  Kurdistan with Finnish citizenship, the United States, United States-Taiwan, China (2x), South Korea, Australia, Australia-United Kingdom dual citizenship, Kenya, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ghana, New Zealand (I’m the first Kiwi!), Canada, Finland, Iran and India.

Our common language is English, but only six of us are mother-tongue speakers. We range in age from about 23 – 53, and the majority of us have a background in teaching.

Last week’s assignment for the Orientation to Finnish Culture and Education Systems course was to present for 15 minutes about our own countries’ education systems. Two people presented on other international experiences they had – S from Kurdistan-Finland talked about immigrant language support in Finland and R from UK-Aus presented about his time teaching in the West Bank, Palestine.

It was fascinating to learn about the way education is valued and approached differently across the world. In many ways it made me even more grateful for the high quality of education we provide in New Zealand. The comparisons with regard to access, autonomy and corruption etc. made me see even more that my gripes with our system are very “first-world problems”, but at the same time they have made me more firm in my determination to help maintain and improve what we have so that we don’t regress into further inequalities.

I have pasted my notes from my classmates’ presentation sessions below. Because they’re just my notes I took down as they spoke, I don’t have the references for stats etc. that they referred to. If there’s anything you’re especially interested in I can ask for them and pass them on to you though. Some of the detail is anecdotal as it comes from my classmates’ experiences as students and teachers in their home countries. I hope you find this as interesting as we all do!

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Tervetuloa! Haere mai! Welcome!

min-the-finn
Four weeks in, lookin’ like a Finn

Whāia e koe te iti kahurangi: ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei

Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain

I have said farewell to the land and people I love in Aotearoa New Zealand to seek the most valuable treasure of education in Oulu, northern Finland. There are no mountains here, but there will be many challenges. I hope that I am able to work through them and share this journey with you.

I moved to Finland in August to study a two year master’s programme in Education and Globalisation at the University of Oulu in northern Ostrobothnia. I’m the first New Zealander to do the EdGlo course, and as far as I can tell I’m the only Kiwi at the University and maybe even in the city!  I’m excited to be a student again after being a teacher, especially to study education in a country that values it so highly and delivers it so successfully. It’s a dream to have the dedicated time to read, think, discuss, research and write about such a fascinating and important subject in this supportive and stimulating learning environment.

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