Development of a Tool for Determining Moral Distress among Teachers in Basic Schools

  • Markéta Váchová


Abstract: Morality can be linked with education in the broadest sense in connection with the various topics associated with this phenomenon. This manuscript focuses on the decision-making processes in contemporary teachers’ work that are connected with morally dilemmatic situations. The text deals with the problematics of moral dilemmas in teachers’ work. It specifically focuses on the situation in Czech basic education. The second half of the 20th century was characterized by an eff ort to professionalize various occupations, among them also teaching. If we are to accept the rather problematic concept of the professionalization of teaching, it is necessary to (constantly) fulfil the attributes of the profession. These include professional autonomy. Its boundary is disputed and relativized. Social pressure on schools, manager-like styles of running schools, and the increasing influence of parents on schools pose risks of improper interventions into professional decision making in teachers’ work. In his work a teacher is often confronted with situations which require him to make a professional moral choice. These are conflict situations that require the teacher to make a fundamental decision and, depending on his professional and personal characteristics, they have significant consequences for his subsequent work. Within his professional field the teacher then has to give in to social pressure and to adopt his approach to something that he does not identify with, or he has to speak out against this pressure and confront the situation. In these situations in which the teacher has to act against his own convictions and gives in to pressure from his environment, the culture of his own institution, or his colleagues and parents, the long-term effect and constant presence of these dilemmas may lead to him suffering from professional moral distress. It is possible to assume that the emergence of professional moral distress is also dependent on the individual characteristics of each teacher. These include, for example, the length of his professional career in the institution and his experience or personal characteristics. As Mareš (2017a) states, so far only scholars from abroad have dealt with the theoretical identification and diagnostics of moral distress. This manuscript declares that the prevailing sources of professional dilemmas among teachers in basic schools come from the management, parents, colleagues, and increasing (unsolvable) demands from education policy.
Keywords: teacher, moral distress, professional morally dilemmatic situations, questionnaire.


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