What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers

by Alan Hall


This paper is an introduction to exploring ethical issues and problems within the educational context. Alan Hall provides a brief theoretical framework regarding the importance of taking an ethical approach to solving difficult issues. He then provides two compelling case studies as examples and a framework to use to deal with them.

The paper has the advantage of being New Zealand based and is readily adaptable in any school setting. Hall provides a step-by-step approach for dealing with the issues, and gives an example of how to manage the discussions that will follow the process.

It would be very easy to follow his suggested process with any group of teachers or with the school leadership team. The process may even alert the leadership team to think about these kinds of situations before they happen and to develop some proactive policies that would prevent the crisis situations that arose in the case studies.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this paper:

  • How has your school’s ethical problem-solving policy taken account of the ever-increasing diversity in New Zealand’s society – ethnic, religious, social, and cultural?
  • Trial Hall’s process on a real life situation that your school has faced. Does the process lead you to consider different ways of acting? What new insights does the process give you about the complexity and diversity of your school community?

Further reading

Duignan, P. (2003, September). Formation of capable, influential and authentic leaders for times of uncertainty. Paper presented at the Australian Primary Principals’ Association National Conference, Adelaide. 


Hall, A. (2001, April). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Added to this site with permission.

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