What is virtue ethics within this dilemma???
You are a new teacher, fresh out of university. You are employed on a short-term contract. So is Kylie, a know-it-all pain-in-the-neck to whom you have never warmed. You know there is a permanent position coming up, and believe you will be in competition with her. You suspect that she has been trying to sabotage your chances of permanent appointment by spreading rumours about you being sly and ruthless in pursuit of your interests. You have been supported through this by Mr Holland, the Deputy Principal. It was he who suggested to you that Kylie was trying to undermine your standing in the school. His siding with you appears to have really got up Kylie’s nose.
Mr Holland seems to have taken quite a shine to you. He is a teacher you greatly admire (and whose patronage might do your career no harm). He is a forceful character, with strong ideas about the importance of Australia’s English and Christian origins, and its proud military history. While not sharing all of his enthusiasms, you still consider him the sort of spirited teacher you aspire to be.
One day you find Nelson weeping behind the toilet block. He is a shy Sudanese refugee, whose family has been having trouble adjusting to life in Australia. You think they keep to themselves more than they should, as does Nelson. He is a beautiful child, very dark with flashing white eyes and teeth. He lives not far from you, and you have recently found him joining you for the walk home. You find his sad expression and quiet intelligence appealing, made even more so by his hilariously mangled English.
Nelson tells you that Mr Holland has just humiliated him in front of the class (and Kylie) by making fun of his English skills. Nelson begs you not to make matters worse for him by making a big issue out of it. You promise him that you won’t (partly because you find his story hard to believe).
You nonetheless head to Mr Holland’s office to ask him if there might have been a misunderstanding. When you get there you hear raised voices within. Unsettled and unsure of what to do, you listen outside the door.
Mr Holland: “If you can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with your colleagues in maintaining our cultural values you are not a decent teacher, certainly not the sort this school prides itself in.”
Kylie: “But you were cruel…”
Mr Holland: “I don’t trust that little monkey. Those people expect everything to change to fit in with their requirements. I don’t buy that lost soul act. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Someone demanding that he speak and act like his peers is precisely what he needs!”
Kylie: “I think the principal should be informed of this.”
Mr Holland: “The principal and I see eye-to-eye on this. Telling tales behind your colleagues’ backs shows why you are not a good teacher. The teaching staff are supposed to stick together! You should act as one of us, not one of them.”
You are confused. You certainly don’t trust Kylie’s judgement, and still think Mr Holland must have meant well, but feel uncomfortable about the amount of pressure he seems to be putting on her.
What are the ethical issues embedded in this scenario?
How should you act in this situation?
How would you justify your actions if they were called into question?
I think i'd try to get to know Kylie better as the rumours about her making rumours about you could have been started by the management.
Would you really want to work in a school like that anyway in the long term?
Hows about suggesting an outside speaker to speak to you all on inclusion therby demonstrating your positive approach and commitment to continued professional development, so that the management publicly go on record stating their policy and belief which will be so PC perfect, then take inclusin to heart.
The problem is that you don't have all the information you need. If you'd actually been in the class when Mr Holland had spoken to Nelson, you would have been able to make a first hand judgment call about his behaviour towards Nelson.
As it is, you've only got hearsay to go on.
In your situation I'd probably sit tight and wait to see how things went. Although if the opportunity presented itself to actually be present in Mr Holland's classroom while he taught Nelson, I'd grab it with both hands.
Rumour is no substitute for first hand knowledge.
Boy I had a lovely staff member act like this on one of my jobs. They cannot get ahead on their own merit so they under mind everyone else to climb the ladder on the backs of their coworkers, lovely types of people these are. Making fun of a child (which educators swear they never do, but of course they do) tells me those people have no business in education at all. Just because someone chooses a profession does not mean they are good at it. I'd go over their heads to their supervisors. They want to play games and I personally would have no part of it.
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