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Remembering Professional Ethics

I just finished Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, a quick read that I picked up from Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on my birthday. Written by Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale, the book is terrifying in its parallels between World War II and 2017.

As a teacher, the chapter on professional ethics stood out to me the most. Snyder writes that

Professions can create forms of ethical conversation that are impossible between a lonely individual and a distant government. If members of professions think of themselves as groups with common interests, with norms and rules that oblige them at all times, then they can gain confidence and indeed a certain kind of power. (41)
He argues that its members within professions--doctors, lawyers, and businessmen--that abandoned their norms and ethics and allowed such atrocities to occur under Hitler. Had they united and refused to comply, he argues that the Nazis would have had a much more difficult time carrying out their plans.

As teachers, we are obliged to follow the Michigan Professional Educator's Code of Ethics, which can be found here. The common good, mutual respect, equity, diversity, and truth and honesty -- lofty, but good reminders of the importance of the work we undertake and our obligations to our students and society.

During these tumultuous times, we must cling to our professional standards and organizations. Renew your memberships, revisit your teaching philosophy, and continue fighting the good fight.

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