At both the philosophical and practical level children as change agency looks to embed an ethical radar into the work. The question of the purposes of education and the very society that we wish to build through it are ethical ones. Is it right to try and prepare children for a society that is unsustainable and a future that they have to inhabit but cannot shape? Attempting to place children as societal actors rather than societal subjects, is itself an ethical decision which carries with it a vision of the good or just society. The SiS Catalyst Project created a space where practitioners were able to develop their own visions for education, and use the frame of ethical consideration to help them do this. In itself this is a message coming from the project. While practitioners may focus their energies on delivering activities for children, they are not and should not be divorced from the broader issues that shape their everyday work. They need the space to be able to connect this work with such issues for it to have meaning to children and themselves.

Working ethically is not just an issue of reflection, it can permeate throughout the day to day decisions that those working with young people. The SiS Catalyst project developed two brief guides and an e-learning course to assist in this endeavour. They are suitably generic to apply across contexts.

Things to Consider when Working with Children

This guide focused on a number of key points:

Balancing participation and protection: Children are emotionally vulnerable. We want them to play active roles in society but this must be done so as to protect them at the same time.

Targeting positively: Identifying those from excluded groups and focusing on them specifically is essential if inequalities are to be addressed but this means others will be left out. There needs to be clear, context based rationale’s for how and why different groups are targeted.

Avoiding alienation and stigmatisation: When targeting does occur it has to be done in such a way that accentuates the positive nature of identity rather than stigmatising a group as ‘poor’ or ‘needy’.

Creating realistic expectations: Science is hard work, can be dull and it takes commitment to see results in the field. In the desire to make science appear interesting these realities should not be forgotten.

Informed consent and informed assent: The appropriate information and permission must always be sought to allow children to opt in or out of be opted in or out of any activity.

Guidelines for working with Children

 

Things to Consider when Working with Students

This guide focused on a number of key points:

Making recruitment equal: Ensure that entry procedures into study opportunities are actively open to all social groups. This means more than just having no legal barriers in place, but reaching out to diverse groups.

Compensating students. It is essential that students are not seen as ‘free or cheap labour’ to work on particular projects with children for example.

Dialogue in teaching and learning: The construction of curriculum should be a mutual process that sees both teacher and student in a reciprocal relationship of learning and respect.

Ensuring particular needs are met: Student with disabilities, older students or those with specific caring responsibilities in the home will have distinct needs. Meeting them is a duty not an option.

Guidelines for working with Students

 

E-learning Course

A free, self-paced resource which allows the user to expand their knowledge and understand the importance of ethics when working with young people and students.

Access Ethics E-Learning Course