Teaching is an independent profession and a demanding expert task that inherently involves professional ethics. The key aspects of teachers’ ethical principles are presented in the ethical principles for the teaching profession.

The teaching profession requires that those working as a teacher comply with a high standard of professional ethics and that society can trust that teachers act ethically in all situations.

Teacher’s expertise and values

Responsibility related to a teacher’s work is based on know-how and the work’s values and norms. Neither of these can replace the other: poor expertise does not compensate for good ethical principles and vice versa.

Teachers must continuously maintain their expertise, have special sensitivity to recognise the ethical dilemmas involved in teaching work and the readiness to act ethically in these situations.

Separating legal and ethical issues

Legal and ethical issues must be treated separately in teachers’ ethics. Although a teacher’s basic task and responsibilities are defined in legislation and standards, professional ethics cannot be based on compulsion or external control.

Instead, professional ethics are based on a teacher’s internalised understanding of the profession’s moral demands.

Societal expectations

The results of a teacher’s work are often not seen until much later. Good learning experiences support life-long learning, and teachers play a significant role in creating a positive learning experience and in strengthening the learner’s confidence and sense of social responsibility.

A teacher’s job is to improve the opportunities for education, teaching and learning for the benefit of the individual. Teachers are expected to meet society’s expectations, which concern the actualisation of the teaching goals. Due to societal changes, many teachers are forced to deal with many matters in their work for which they cannot hold sole responsibility.

The power and responsibility of a teacher

The shift in the role of teachers has brought the teacher closer to the learner. It adds to the teacher’s responsibility for the learner’s development and often also requires co-operation with other parties responsible for the learner’s development.

Assessment of the learner is closely linked to the teacher’s power and responsibility. Internalised ethics prevent teachers from misusing their position.