Source: Religious Education
This study attempts to explore Israeli and American teachers’ perceptions based on their ethical dilemmas in Jewish schools. A cross-national study was undertaken in Jewish schools, examining fifty teachers from Israel and fifty-one teachers from the United States. Designed with team-based simulations, this study revealed strong similarities between teachers’ ethical dilemmas in both Israel and the United States. Several differences were found in the ethical guidelines participants created, based on contextual, school-related factors. This study suggests that ethical guidelines should be developed by teachers and that the use of team-based simulations is warranted to assist teachers in ethical decision making.
Study participants repeatedly reported that their work in schools is not guided by a firmly established set of ethical guidelines, codes, or policies. We are not surprised by this finding, since we reported earlier in this study that there are no universal ethical guidelines available to teachers in Jewish schools in the United States or Israel (the latter, however, does have a draft version). Without an ethical code to guide their decision making, participants relied on personal experiences and values to guide their work. In the few instances that participants attested to a school code, they reported that they were never involved in creating the codes.
A review of existing codes developed in the United States (e.g., by teacher unions or national education associations) and Israel (e.g., by the Ministry of Education) indicates a top-down approach with little, if any, teacher involvement. The present findings may indicate that TBS activities that engage teachers in designing their own ethical guidelines are a potentially fruitful way to encourage teacher involvement in the development of ethical codes. Our study indicates that TBS activities are warranted to assist teachers in ethical decision making.