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Header image Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law

Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law

In education there are a number of different interests to be considered:

the interests of the children, their parents, the groups to which they belong (e.g. religious or ethnic minorities), and the interests of society.

These interests are often difficult to define and they can often be at odds with each other. How do we establish what is the best practice or policy? How do we assess and attune conflicting interests or claims? How do we decide in the case of strong differences of opinion and perception?

Educational professionals need to have the competences to analyse and discuss moral,  legal and policy-related issues. Some of them need to be extra-proficient in this area in order to be able to advise other professionals, managers, policy makers, politicians, and governments. The Ethics of Education Master's course provides the right learning environment to enable you to develop this extra expertise. You will acquire the relevant competences and learn to apply these in the professional contexts of research, policy making and consultancy.

In the Mastertrack Ethics of Education you learn to analyze moral issues and discussions in order to design policies and procedures and to take decisions. Three examples: 

Het is in onderwijs, opvoeding en jeugdzorg vaak moeilijk om uit te maken wat het beste is en wat rechtvaardig is. Dat komt doordat opvattingen over wat kinderen nodig hebben, sterk verschillen.

Dit leidt gemakkelijk tot dilemma's en conflicten. Bijv. over wat zwaarder weegt:

  • de wens en de wil van de ouders of het inzicht en de verantwoordelijkheid van professionals (bijv. bij keuze voor behandeling in gezondheidszorg en jeugdzorg en bij keuze van leerstof, werkvormen en regels in het onderwijs);
  • de godsdienstvrijheid en culturele rechten van minderheden of het belang van het kind (bijv. bij selectie van pleegouders, bij het al of niet verbieden van besnijdenis, bij het al of niet toestaan van 'eigen' scholen, bij het toezicht op 'eigen' scholen en bij handhaving van de leerplicht);
  • het maatschappelijke belang of het persoonlijke belang (bijv. bij het bepalen van onderwijsdoelen en bij het beperken van schoolkeuzevrijheid).

Het zijn voorbeelden van ethische vragen. In beleidsvorming en praktijk doen zulke ethische vragen zich steeds vaker voor. Bovendien worden de ethische vragen steeds ingewikkelder, bijvoorbeeld door immigratie, emancipatie en professionalisering.

In deze mastertrack leer je morele problemen en discussies te analyseren met het oog op het vormen van beleid, het ontwikkelen van procedures en het nemen van praktische beslissingen. Bijv. problemen en discussies als:

More about this programme
  • Testimonial of Eline van der Raad

    During my internship at a primary school I found out that the communication between parents and teachers is often poor.

    After finishing the 'Academic Pabo', I felt a little too young to start working immediately. I wanted to learn more before I would start to teach others.

    I chose the Master’s programme ‘Ethics of Education’, because I was ─▒nterested in moral issues that concern education. For me, that is more interesting than only focussing on policy issues in education. In this master’s programme, you examine what is best for a child. That is very often hard to say, because who decides what is best? The parents, the school or perhaps the child itself? It is very interesting to dive into those issues. I am happy that I decided to study this.

    A course ─░ really liked was ‘In the best interest of the child’. You learn how to make decisions when there is a dilemma and people have different opinions on what might be best for a child. An example would be if it is good for a child to skip a grade. Teachers, parents and children might all want something different. What would be a proper solution for that?

    My thesis is about parent involvement. I have always been interested in that. During my internship at a primary school I found out that the communication between parents and teachers is often poor. I studied a project at a school where parents coach their children individually in class. I am going to examine how that influences the inequality of opportunity for children. In The Netherlands there is a lot of inequality of opportunity caused by shadow education like private supplementary tutoring or homework coaching. Especially highly educated parents send their children to such courses. I am going to research if this project will have a positive or perhaps a negative effect on this.

    Eline van der Raad, master student Ethics of Education

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    – Eline van der Raad
  • Testimonial of Jan Jaap Zijlstra

    "Then I heard about the Master's programme Ethics of Education. In this programme, my questions are answered."

    Before I started this Master's degree programme, I followed the Bachelor's degree programme in Pedagogical Sciences, as well as the primary school teacher training. In those programmes, I ran into a lot of 'why' questions, which were not addressed. Then I heard about the Master's programme in Ethics of Education. In this programme, my questions are answered.

    Before I started this Master’s degree programme, I followed the Bachelor’s degree programme in Pedagogical Sciences, as well as the primary school teacher training. In those programmes, I ran into a lot of ‘why’ questions, which were not addressed. Then I heard about the Master’s programme Ethics of Education. In this programme, my questions are answered.

    What is the programme about? I would say that the focus is on the position of the child and the parties involved in the child’s care. Course units include Citizenship and Professionalization, which includes an analysis of past trends.

    You follow these courses units in the first semester. In the second semester you complete a work placement and write your thesis. I am currently on an placement at SLO, the National Centre for Expertise on Curriculum Development. Now I’m contributing to a book on curriculum development in Europe. I am very proud of that.

    The atmosphere at the programme is very good. It’s a small programme and I like that. You get to know each other quickly because you have a lot of discussions. The contact with the lecturers is also very nice. They all know you by name, really soon. I think the lecturers appreciate the atmosphere too: teaching a class that actually responds. That’s a change form delivering standard lectures for 400 people.

    I follow this Master’s degree programme because I am interested in children. The child is at the heart of the programme. Every discussion is about the child. Within that framework you can pursue your own interests. You are surrounded by people who have the same interests. The academic supervision is good, with frequent consultations and a lot of direct feedback. I really like it!

    Jan Jaap Zijlstra, 24 years old.

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    – Jan Jaap Zijlstra
Facts & Figures
Degree
MSc in Pedagogical Sciences
Croho code
66607
Course type
Master
Language of instruction
English (100%)
Duration
12 months (12 ECTS)
Start
February, SeptemberFebruary, September
Programme form
full-time
Faculty
Behavioural and Social Sciences