Teachers’ ethical strain and the contents of their ethical dilemmas
This study investigates teachers’ ethical strain, i.e., stress caused by ethical dilemmas, and the contents of these dilemmas. Two types of dilemmas were included: situations where the teacher does not know the correct course of action (type A dilemma), and situations where the teacher is, for some reason, forced to act against rules, norms or his/her own values (type B dilemma). The participants were 333 class, subject and special education teachers. The results showed that 76 % of the teachers faced type A dilemmas and 23 % of the teachers faced type B dilemmas at least once a month. Further, type A dilemmas caused some or considerably high ethical strain to 28 % of the teachers whereas type B dilemmas caused ethical strain to 34 % of the teachers. Type A dilemmas typically concerned problems in interaction with others, while type B dilemmas arose more often from conflicting values and difficulties in obeying the rules. Overall, the results suggest that teachers’ ethical strain should be decreased in schools by creating ethical guidelines and opportunities to practice and share ethically challenging situations.