This paper considers an ethical dilemma with a child in a preschool classroom stemming from a situation when a child does not want to comply with a particular EC institution’s standard schedule. The latter involves drawing time after breakfast from 10 am till 11:30 am. The child does not like this activity; however, his parents insist on him being involved in drawing since they are convinced it is necessary for the child’s aesthetic education. This situation presents an ethical dilemma since its solution affects more than one side and includes ethical considerations and value conflicts. Also, an early childhood educator meets several possible solutions since it does not involve a legal responsibility when determining a course of action. This text analyzes this ethical dilemma as a moral conflict that involves a choice between conflicting values and responsibilities.
There are three main parties to whom the educator has responsibilities: the child, his parents, and other children in the classroom. From the perspective of the responsibilities to the child, the educator should provide a comfortable stay in the classroom, absence of negative emotions, and focus on the child’s individual development and needs. From the perspective of the educator’s responsibilities to the parents, one should concentrate on providing the best service their clientele expects and, thus, comply with their wishes regarding their child’s course of education. However, at the same time, the educator is responsible to other children and the smooth process of their education. The child’s behavior when refusing to draw distracts others and can potentially create chaos in a classroom.
Since this situation involves conflicting values and responsibilities, there are several possible solutions. The most straightforward solution would be to comply with the parent’s wishes and insist on the drawing process. After all, this activity is included in the kindergarten’s standard schedule, and this point could have been the reason why the parents chose this particular EC institution. Another solution would be to follow the child’s needs first and try to find another activity during this time. However, this could provoke other children to ask for a change in their activity, and, thus, an educator most probably would not be able to deal with all the individual children’s needs at one time.
An ethically justifiable solution would be to compromise the child’s individual needs and the parent’s wishes. One such solution would presume that an educator lets the child skip drawing classes and be involved in another activity that aims at children’s aesthetic education. This could be reading or watching an educational movie or cartoon. However, this could create a problem for other children feeling jealous or unfair. In this case, one needs to revise the Core Values, Ideals, and Principles in the NAEYC Code.
Guidance in the NAEYC Code and The Course of Action
If one acts according to the NAYEC Code, it becomes impossible to force a child into any activity. The core values that should be prioritized are to “respect diversity in children, families, and colleagues” and to “recognize that children… achieve their full potential in the context of relationships that are based on trust and respect” (NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment, 2011, p.1). Stemming from this, an educator should follow the described above solution: provide another activity for a child that would serve a similar purpose. Since other children become involved in this situation, the most appropriate course of action would be to suggest children to choose whether they want to continue drawing or joining the other activity.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2011). NAEYC code of ethical conduct and statement of commitment [PDF document]. Web.