University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The Messiness of Ethics in Education

Cliffe, Johanna and Solvason, Carla ORCID: (2021) The Messiness of Ethics in Education. Journal of Academic Ethics. ISSN Print: 1570-1727 Electronic: 1572-8544

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This article considers the multifaceted concept of ethics and how, despite being a familiar notion within education, it is still much contested within literature and professional practice. Drawing on postmodern, feminist and political literature, the authors explore (re) conceptualisations of ethics and ethicality in relation to ethical identity, professionalism and practice.
Applying philosophical and metaphorical tools, such as the rhizome and nomad (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987), the authors suggest there is the potential to accommodate the multiple and often divergent facets of ethics, thereby engaging with different ethical possibilities.
It is argued that the propensity for reducing ethics to merely procedural protocols and guidelines marginalises the richness of ethics and, all too frequently, leaves practitioners ill-equipped to navigate the reality of day-to-day ethics.
The article is positioned within the field of early years (EY) practice and training EY practitioners. This reflects the authors’ own specialism but also celebrates the propensity of the EY practitioner to reflect upon, question and challenge their own practice and ethical identities. This does not reduce the applicability of the subject matter which is relevant to educators of children of any age. The term ‘practitioner’ is used throughout to refer to any adult working with children in an educative role, this includes, but is not limited to nursery nurses, teachers or teaching assistants.

Item Type: Article
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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: ethics, ethicality, rhizomes, nomad, early childhood education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
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Copyright Info: Open Access article (UW Springer OA agreement)
Depositing User: Carla Solvason
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2021 09:23
Last Modified: 12 May 2021 09:55

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