What are Ethics, and How Do They Apply to Education?

Whose ethics can and should be taught in the classroom? In order teach ethics one must first define it. Dictonary.com defines ethics as "the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture." If you look around at the society of the United States to see who the individuals who are held up as the examples our children should attempt to emulate, it becomes obvious that we are driving our country into and ethical or moral collapse.

In order to illustrate this point, we need look no further than the popular figure known as Magic Johnson. Everyone knows that Magic Johnson is a carrier of the AIDS virus, which he acquired while being unfaithful to his wife. We know that he has lived longer than many others who have been infected with the virus. By having this condition he brought the conversation about it to the forefront or our national discussion, thereby helping us to understand the disease and humanize its victims. This is all well and good, but do any of us know the named of the researchers and doctors who have helped him, and now many others to have a longer life and a quality of life that that was unheard of? This is but a microcosmic example of where our values lie. The former NBA player with the charismatic personality is more recognizable while the people who work towards helping him lead as normal a life as possible are completely in the shadows.

This begs the question, what are our national ethics and who are called upon to be held up to a higher standard than most? Who must be the living breathing examples of moral behavior? Of course it is the teachers of our society. Although we as a country like to sensationalize the fall of a few into what society values, we fail to appreciate the lives that most teachers lead in order to serve as an example to the children in their lives. We must ask ourselves: who do kids spend more time with? The reality of our world today is that the children in our society spend more time with their teachers than with their parents. That is why teachers must live up to these standards.

Children learn by imitating the examples given to them by those around them. Don't believe me? Watch a child attempting to learn language as a toddler. When those around them provide them with a rich vocabulary, the children learn quickly to express their ideas with eloquence. If those who surround the toddler speak without care, what the child learns is what they hear. I have seen toddlers whose first word is considered unacceptable in polite society. Likewise, if a child experiences love, affection, and just as importantly respect, that child will invariably treat others in the same manner. On the other hand, if the child experiences a lack of love, support and respect, that child is doomed to enter the school system and life ill prepared for what lies ahead.

Who does society look towards to continue to support those who have had a wonderful foundation, and provide the scaffolding necessary for those who start behind their peers in this area? Right again! It is the teachers in that child's life. These are the individuals who play a huge role in the survival of our way of life. Yet, our national discourse berates teachers, blaming them for all of the problems in our society. How many times have I heard, "The teachers in (insert your town's, city's, parish's, county's or state's name here) are failing their students!

Again, what is it we really want teachers to do? In the end, most parents hope that their children become contented productive members of our society. In order to achieve this, they must first understand the values in the society and learn to live within the margins of the behaviors expected of them. Many times it falls upon the teachers to instill these values, not because the parents do not want to provide these values to their children, but because they are many times working two jobs, single parents, or face other obstacles that prevent them from doing that which in the past fell to them. As a result, shouldn't we as a society value these individuals, who attend universities, and then for as little pay as the governments in their areas can get away with paying them dedicate their lives to helping all the children within a society? What ethics are we showing them if we tell our children that their teachers are "failures?" Are we as a society dooming our children to live within a society without any moral standards

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