In many countries, early childhood learning plays a very important role because it helps to explain the basics of human behavior and the needs of people of different ages. However, people may face several challenges and problems that are different. In this paper, a particular situation in an early childhood education center will be investigated to explain the importance of values that should be shared by parents, educators, directors, and children and the necessity to consider numerous ethical, social, economic, and even political influences.
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It is not enough for educators to know how to educate and cooperate with learners. Educators should understand why children visit such centers, what their parents want to achieve sending their children to such organizations, and why the ethical aspect is crucial for people in the sphere of education. Challenging behavior children can exhibit in a new institution is not a rare case; still, educators have to ready for different situations and help people in need regarding all aspects of the prescribed Code of Ethics.
Identification of the Issues
In this paper, the situation is rather general. There is an educator, who has to solve the existing ethical dilemmas based on the challenging behavior of one of the new learners. Though there is no clear diagnosis, this child has already hurt the staff and students. Therefore, it is necessary to involve different people in the discussion of this case because there are several ethical responsibilities applied to a new child, the children of the class, the staff, parents, and the center with its director, who has their expectations.
The process of identification and examination of the ethical issues and dilemmas is a crucial activity that cannot be neglected. The increased interest in ethics proves that people are concerned with the ethical aspects of child behavior and the necessity of an educator to respond to it properly (Foster, 2012). There is a list of ethical issues that can be discussed in the case:
- An educator should act in the best possible interests of the child, who demonstrates challenging behavior (Early childhood Australia, 2010). At the same time, there is a dilemma because the same educator should demonstrate their best interests in caring for other children. Therefore, one of the first ethical issues to be discussed is based on the necessity to understand if the interests of one child may be more crucial than the interests of the whole group of students, including the staff of the center and parents.
- An educator must respect everyone around them. If the educator respects the interests of the problematic child and allows them to hurt other people, it may be a sign of disrespect to other people, who are around. The issue of respect should be considered.
- An educator takes responsibility for the creation of a safe and healthy environment for all students (Belonging, being & becoming 2009). On the one hand, the new child feels comfortable hurting other students and the staff. On the other hand, there are many hurt people, who cannot accept the child’s behavior. This dilemma cannot be solved by an educator only without involving other parties interested in the situation. Therefore, the nature of such kind of behavior, as well as its outcomes, should be discussed with parents regarding their responsibilities and practices.
- An educator has to learn more about the culture, structure, customs, beliefs, and lifestyles of a child’s family. In this case, the educator fails to cooperate with the family members as soon as the child joins the center. During the three weeks, the educator has not learned a lot about the peculiarities of the child’s family at all. This ethical issue touches upon not only such shareholders as child families but also students, communities, and colleagues.
- Any good educator should encourage the leadership qualities and practices within the chosen profession (Early childhood Australia, 2010). In this case, the educator has to demonstrate themselves as a professional educator, who can analyze the situation and make the decisions accordingly.
The following stakeholders should be identified:
- Centre director.
Analysis of the Issues
In the case study under consideration, five main ethical issues should be analyzed. They are connected with child interests, environmental safety, respect, knowledge, and the development of appropriate leadership qualities.
Interests of Children
About children, an educator has to act in the best interests (Early childhood Australia, 2010). In this case, it is hard to comprehend what interests are considered. On the one hand, the child has not been diagnosed yet; however, more than three weeks have been already passed. It seems like the educator neglects the duty to act in the interests of the child not insisting on in time diagnosing.
On the other hand, the interests of other students are not considered as well because they have to continue cooperating with a problematic child. According to the Australian Association of Social Workers (n.d.), any kind of intervention should be developed regarding the best interests of a child. It is wrong to underline the possible interests of one group of people and disregard the interests of another group of people.
According to the moral rights theory, the educator does not violate the idea of a child’s rights and provide them with freedom, understanding, and the abilities to protect their interests. The educator’s actions should relate to a valid moral claim. Still, it is necessary to remember that the moral rights should focus on the community but not on an individual (Birsch, 2013). Therefore, it is hard to comprehend where and when the educator has made a mistake.
According to the United National Convention on the Rights of the Child, the rights of children should be respected, and the educator should advocate for the rights (Early childhood Australia, 2010). The contribution of Kant’s research should be mentioned. People have some rights that should not be violated for any reason. Still, the majority of children are not capable to comprehend their rights in society.
Therefore, it is the task of the educator to identify the rights of every child and make sure all of them are respected. In this particular case, there is no evident violation of the rights of the child with challenging behavior. Still, the respect of the rights of other children in the group is a doubtful issue because children are hurt by that child’s behavior and cannot reflect on it properly. This ethical issue is closely connected to another ethical issue that is about the safe environment that should be offered to every stakeholder of the center.
The fact that many stakeholders of the center undergo certain challenges and hurts caused by the child’s behavior cannot be ignored. “A safe environment emerges through a process of incremental disclosures by the teacher and the learners” (Wankel, 2011). It means that more time than three weeks is required for the development of appropriate teacher-learner relations. The establishment of a safe environment is not an easy task to complete, and the educator has to focus on the problematic areas individually with the child and address the director or parents in a certain period only.
Awareness of the Family
In the description of the case, there is no information about the peculiar features of the child’s family. According to the Code of Ethics developed by Early Childhood Australia (2010), the educator should respect the uniqueness of each family and try to learn more about their cultures, traditions, customs, beliefs, etc. Regarding the expectations that any educator should meet, it is necessary to spend more time talking with the family member and learning the peculiarities of the child’s family.
The utilitarian ethical theory can be applied in this case based on which it is required to predict the consequences of the actions taken by the child. A utilitarian should analyze the situation to understand what can be expected from a person. In this situation, the child’s family maybe not full, or some misunderstandings can take place recently. The educator should pay attention to the family facts that can influence the child’s behavior and share this information with other stakeholders.
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Regarding the fact that all child’s interests and rights should be protected, the educator should not forget about the necessity to gain control over all activities taken in the center and the decisions made by the children, their families, and colleagues (Early childhood Australia, 2010). The educator should not only teach and deal with the problems of students. The educator’s task is to become a good leader for students, children, and their parents. Besides, in this situation, it is possible to develop the leadership qualities that can be used in communication with colleagues and explain that the child’s behavior may have some crucial reasons that cannot be neglected or taken personally.
Explanation of Potential Values
In this situation, different stakeholders such as the parent, the child, the educator, and the center director can have potential shared and different values about the five issues under consideration. Values are all those things that people may consider as important for their activities (Knowles, 2012).
Interests of Children
Parents may have shared values with the educator or with the child because these three groups of people have one thing in common is to identify the interests of the child and make sure to meet them. The center director should not focus on the interests of children because this is a responsible kind of work that cannot be performed by one person in a big organization. The director has a different value because their task is to identify what can be better for the organization but not for its separate stakeholder.
Dignity and respect of all stakeholders are the values that cannot be neglected. Parents, the educator, and the director have an idea of how to behave properly and consider the social expectations set. Still, the values of parents differ from those of the educator and the director because the parent needs to understand how the child should interpret the ideas of respect. The parent takes responsibility for the way of how the child behaves or realizes what is wrong and what is right.
A safe environment is an issue that makes the educator and the director share the same values because their task is to make sure that children get the necessary portion of support and care. The parent and the child have to evaluate the quality of safety offered to them in the center.
Awareness of the Family
The director and the educator have to pose questions, organize meetings, and communicate with the child and the family to learn more about the nature of relations that can be expected from the child. The parent and the child, in their turn, should provide true and clear information to avoid any possible misunderstandings.
The leadership qualities developed by the educator are highly appreciated by the parent and the director. Still, the director should benefit from this issue because the quality of work and satisfaction of stakeholders can be improved, and the parent has a different value connected with a chance to entrust the child to a professional educator, who knows how to organize children and identify their needs and abilities.
Examination of Influences
All ethical issues identified in the case may be underpinned using such social influences as communication with peers, the establishment of duties, the identification of the goals, and even development of the rules that should be followed by different stakeholders. In other words, when children, parents, or other stakeholders define themselves as a crucial part of the community, it is easier to comprehend the power and worth of each issue mentioned.
The power of culture including such factors as history, geography, and family traditions plays an important role in educating children. As soon as the educator follows the issue of the child’s family awareness, it is possible to use the information gathered to promote the significance of respect, dignity, safety, etc.
Economic stability is the only possible positive influence that can be observed in this field. As soon as parents, the educator, and the director are confident that their work can be paid, their investments are not worthless, and their financial operations are successful, they can succeed in underpinning the conditions under which the child can get the required portion of education, respect, and support.
Many researchers and writers support the idea that the role of possible political influence should not be overvalued (Bigham & Ray, 2012). The decisions that are related to pedagogy and the educator-parent communication should be politically free. Early childhood education is not the period for discussing the role of politicians in a human life. It is time to develop human qualities and basic knowledge about how human life should be organized.
Ethical Decision-Making and Professional Practice
In the situation under consideration, there are several groups of people, who are challenged by the child’s behavior. On the one hand, there is the educator, who has to explain the peculiarities of behavior in the chosen center and check if the child comprehends the requirements properly. On the other hand, there are the parents, who should take responsibility for the actions taken by the child and resulted in numerous complaints from the staff, the parents of other children, and the children, who have to communicate with the child. Finally, there is the child, who should comprehend that there are certain rules and requirements that they should consider. Because the child has not been diagnosed yet, the child may have some problems with the evaluation of the requirements. At the same time, if there are some problems, the parents should inform about the possible deviations on the very first day.
Regarding the situation and the ethical issues identified, the center’s responsive action should be as follows:
- The director has to investigate the case and clarify the situation when the child hurt the staff and under which circumstances the accidents took place;
- The director should address the parents of other children with official apologies and underline the visions and missions of the center under which each child should be respected and understood;
- The director has to establish the rules according to which the children should understand their possibilities and responsibilities, and their parents should explain the behavioral basics;
- The educator has to talk directly to the child, other children, and the staff who was hurt by the child and discuss the conditions under which different unpleasant situations happened;
- The educator should explain the rules that should be followed by all stakeholders of the center and make sure each other them understand the ideas clearly;
- The educator may organize some games or entertaining tests to make sure the children comprehend the situation and know how to avoid the outcomes of challenging behavior.
In general, the situation in the center is not complicated. Still, it is full of numerous ethical dilemmas and discontent. The parents, the director, and the educator should take into consideration different aspects of the situation to realize who should be blamed or if it is even correct to blame someone. There are the people, who should take responsibility for the actions of the child. Still, the staff is also challenged by the child’s behavior. Communication and illustrative examples seem to be the best solution in the situation.
Australian association of social workers. (n.d.). Children wellbeing and protection. Web.
Belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. (2009). Web.
Bigham, G. & Ray, J. (2012). The influence of local politics on educational decisions. Current Issues in Education, 15(2), 1-12. Web.
Birsch, D. (2013). Introduction to ethical theories: A procedural approach. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. Web.
Early childhood Australia. (2010). Code of ethics. Web.
Foster, D.J. (2012). Codes of ethics in Australian education: Towards a national perspectives. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(9), 0-17. Web.
Knowles, G. (2012). What are ethics and values? In G. Knowles, V. Lander, S. Hawkins, C. Hughes, G. Stone, L. Cooper, B. & Thompson (Eds.), Thinking through ethics and values in primary education (pp. 9-25). Washington, DC: SAGE. Web.
Wankel, C. (2011). Handbook of research on teaching ethics in business and management education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Web.