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Philosophy, Ideology, Theory & Code of Ethics

Developing as a teacher

Philosophy, ideology, and theory are three parts of a whole when it comes to education. In comparing these three elements, I plan to develop my own teaching philosophy into a workable way of life in the classroom. Developing my teaching philosophy will help me create a code-of-ethics that will serve me in the years to come.

Compare and Contrast Philosophy

I love wisdom! I love knowledge and I love learning! Derived from the Greek words Philo, which is to love, and Sophia, which means wisdom, “philosophy has also been connected with the quest for the truth” (Russo & Fair, 2000, p. 2). So, what is truth, and for that matter, what is wisdom? While that may be a million dollar question, the study of philosophy is unlikely to provide an answer. Philosophy is far too abstract a concept to determine the answers for you, which means we must provide our own interpretation of truth and the value of wisdom.

“Operating at a high level of generality, philosophies seek to explain what is real, how we think, and how we value” (Gutek, 2009, p. 186). Philosophy is a way of tying our world together using the four components of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic.

Metaphysics is the study of what is real and true in the realm of being. It asks the big questions like why am I here? What is real? What is the meaning of life? The answers to these questions are different for everybody, but in studying the metaphysics of my own life, I know that as a teacher, I am here to guide young minds in their quest for knowledge. My reality is that my life is crazy busy, and even though I often wish for more time in the day, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Determining my meaning in life is an ever-changing quest for knowledge about what I can do to make my world a better place.

Epistemology asks the question, “how do we know what we know” (Gutek, 2009, p. 4). Knowing can come from a variety of sources. We can know something through personal experience, through the wisdom of others, or through our own system of beliefs. Educationally speaking, epistemology can provide a framework for creating lessons that help students develop their own way of searching for knowledge.

Axiology is the study of ethics and aesthetics. Axiology helps us determine what is moral and right, and what is beautiful to our own eyes. “Whereas metaphysics attempts to describe the nature of ultimate reality, axiology refers to prescriptions of moral behavior and beauty” (Gutek, 2009, p. 5). Both beauty and morality have a place in the classroom. Aesthetics can describe anything from the atmosphere where a student works to the work they create when allowed to draw on their own creativity, while morality can help students determine the difference between right and wrong.

Logic “is concerned with how we organize and sequence our thinking and frame our arguments according to a coherent pattern...” (Gutek, 2009, p. 6). Logic can be deductive; moving from general statements to specific interpretations, or inductive; moving from specifics to generalities. Logic plays a huge role in education. Students expect logic when receiving assignments, schoolbooks are logically ordered to build on previously learned materials, and teachers are more effective when logic guides their reasoning.

To Ideology

“Ideology serves to give theoretical legitimacy to a group’s outlook, aspirations, program, and action” (Gutek, 2009, p. 162). Ideology is a way for people to understand their past as they examine present circumstances and plan for their future. It can be looked at as an ideal interpretation of how people should live. In education, ideology is used to determine what is most important for students to learn while they are in school. Ideologies vary depending on the person or group espousing their virtues and are therefore subjective to a variety of human natures. (Gutek, 2009, pp. 184-185)

While philosophy could be considered a personal endeavor, ideology is most often based on groupthink. “Group beliefs arise primarily in a historical, social, political, and economic context...” (Gutek, 2009, p. 163). Philosophies tend to be reflective; concerned with why we think the way we think or why we feel the way we feel. In contrast, ideologies can be used to spur a group to actions that can guide them through the stages of growth and development.

And Theory

Theory takes philosophy and ideology one-step further by putting thoughts and ideas into practice. “As a hypothetical set of ideas or principles that can guide practice, theories can be turned into “if–then” statements: If I do this or act in this way, then the following is likely to happen” (Gutek, 2009, p. 297). Theory can be derived by looking at one’s ideologies and philosophies. Philosophies help us determine what is important, ideologies help us determine how to best utilize that which is important to us, and theories tie them together into practical application.

In Education

Philosophy, ideology, and theory all have their place in education. One cannot be an effective educator without knowing what they believe in. I cannot be an effective educator unless I can take what I believe in and turn it into a practical application. By examining the past with an eye to the future, I can help my students learn how to be moral, responsible adults who contribute to both society and their own well-being.

My philosophy of education includes the fact that I consider all students worth reaching out to particularly those that seem to be the most difficult to reach. My ideology tells me that these students can be reached, and they can be taught, and despite the circumstances they’ve grown up with, they can have a successful future. My theory, which is still in the testing phase, is that reaching out to these students is worth any sacrifice I must make. Their future lies in my hands and seeing them succeed will more than compensate me for my efforts.

To Create My Code of Ethics

In an era where ethical standards seem to slap you in the face every time you turn around, writing a personal code of ethics may seem redundant. I don’t see it that way. In fact, I believe Almoni (2010) when he says, “Teachers must embody the values of a solid code of ethics, because they have the responsibility of developing the minds and characters of our youth” (p. 1). Many students today, particularly the ones I work with, lack a solid moral fiber in their home lives. It’s up to me as their teacher to instill morals and values that will last them a lifetime.

Creating my own code of ethics, based on my philosophy that all students are worth reaching out to, can help me define a theory of action that will help me continue to try to reach my students when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope. While my code of ethics is likely to change and grow as I develop as an educator, this is what I’ve come up with thus far:

  1. I will treat all students, regardless of sex, ethnicity, background, or attitude, with respect and kindness.
  2. I will maintain a safe environment in order to help my students know they are valued.
  3. I will set high expectations that let my students know I believe they are capable of great things.
  4. I will never demean or intimidate a student.
  5. I will model the behavior I expect from my students by providing a good example for them to follow.
  6. I will help my students find ways to demonstrate their self-worth.
  7. I will respect my student’s privacy by keeping their personal issues out of the spotlight.
  8. I will help my students see the value of their education by relating lessons to real life experiences.
  9. I will respect the rights of parents and will strive to make them active participants in their child’s education.
  10. I will communicate with parents about any concerns I have regarding their students emotional and/or physical well-being.
  11. I will make use of the schools’ support system in order to avoid burnout or fatigue.
  12. I will work with my colleagues to develop educational, support and intervention systems that are suitable for each unique student.


While I may be new to the field of education, I believe I’ve been charged with the very serious task of overseeing and guiding the development of the future leaders of our country. While this task may seem daunting, and can be downright frustrating at times, I believe these students are worthy of my best efforts.


Almoni, P. (2010, May 5). Why Childhood Educators Need a Code of Ethics. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from eHow

Gutek, G. (2009). New Perspectives on Philosophy and Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Russo, M., & Fair, G. (2000). What is philosophy anyway? Retrieved October 12, 2010, from Molloy College