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?
In education, upbringing and youth care there are a number of different interests to consider. These interests, of the children, their parents, the groups to which they belong (e.g. religious or ethnic minorities), and the interests of society are often difficult to define and they can often be at odds with each other.
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 Master track Ethics of Education you learn to analyse moral issues and discussions in order to design policies and procedures and to take decisions. Three examples:
Laura manages and coaches pedagogical staff members at preschool and early childhood education day care centres
Since September 2017, I have worked as preschool and early childhood education (VVE) coordinator for six child daycare centres in Haarlem, where I manage and coach about twenty pedagogical staff members. Between my graduation and my current job, I gained experience as manager in an institute for homework support.
When studying Pedagogics in Groningen, I learnt a lot about child development and the factors influencing it. My graduation project focused on child daycare. It was my goal to become a pedagogue in child daycare, and my graduation project turned out to be instrumental in achieving this. I also apply the theoretical knowledge that I acquired in other course units to my job. At the same time, gaining practical experience really only begins once you start working.
I noticed that the main benefit of the degree programme is its ‘meta’ approach; it teaches you to look critically and to do research; which questions should you ask to obtain the answers that you are looking for. Certain knowledge can sometimes also be used in unexpected ways. Statistical knowledge, for instance, helps provide more insight into turnover and staffing and enrolment figures.
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 interested 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 İ 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
"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.
I really like the course unit 'Citizenship of Education', which looks at how education influences our democratic societies and how or why education should be responsible or not.
My name is Rosa María Guttiérez. I am Mexican and I am 20 years old. I am following the Master's track 'Ethics of Education: Philosophy, History and Law'. Before starting this programme, I gained a Bachelor's degree in Pedagogy in Mexico City. Before studying Pedagogy, I started a programme in International Relations and Political Science, but I didn't finish it. I was looking for a Master's programme that would enable me to combine my interest in politics with my background in education.
I compared programmes offered in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen with the programme in Groningen, and the latter appealed to me most. The name of the programme indicates that it involves philosophy, which interests me, and I also didn’t want to go to a very big city. Mexico City is huge, and I was looking for a different lifestyle.
I really like Groningen. It’s very nice. Because it is not a big city, everything is within cycling distance. It is a real student city, with a young and interesting population. There is a lot of art and there are different festivals. It’s also very international.
Ethics of Education has helped me to understand what happens behind the scenes before decisions are made in the education field. We still have to find a way of giving voice to all the children we are trying to help or provide for. In this programme, you follow course units in the first semester. In the second semester you complete a placement and write your thesis. I am currently doing a placement at SLO, the Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development. Some course units focus on the legal background. I really like the course unit ‘Citizenship of Education’, which looks at how education influences our democratic societies and how or why education should be responsible or not.
The programme consists of three lines:
1) a themacial line
2) a professionalisation line, and
3) a research line
You will explore four different domains:
In the introduction to ethics, you are introduced to theories on ethics and moral issues. You learn to conduct ethical analyses, moral assessments and to make and justify moral decisions. You do this based on concrete case studies, such as discussions on the right to have children, parental rights versus professional ethics and the right to privacy. You will be equipped, as a future professional, to give substantiated advice on complex situations in education, child raising or in youth care. You learn the basics, preparing you for the other subjects, the internship and the master thesis.
The guiding principle in decision making regarding children, and in discussions on child raising, child and youth care and education, is that the best interests of the child must be paramount. But how do we determine what is in the best interest of the child when considering dilemmas such as conflictual divorce, medical care, radicalisation, youth criminality … How do we weigh advantages and disadvantages, how do we overcome impasses, how do we reach the ultimate conclusions, and do we legitimise policy and decisions?
A core function of child raising and education, is to bring up children to be citizens. Citizenship education has become explicitly mandatory in education and it seems that legislation will become even tighter. There is much controversy as to the nature of good citizenship and how child raising, and education may contribute to its development. What is the nature of this discussion, what is the current state of knowledge and how does this influence both policy and practice? And to what extent is it desirable for the government to interfere with the kind of citizenship schools should stimulate.
Scientification and professionalisation influence working methods in education, in child and youth care, and impact how children and youth are perceived and treated. What are the advantages and what are the risks? What can professionals do to reduce such risks? How can policy contribute to this? In this subject you mainly learn to reason about the influence of professionalisation and scientification on education, child raising and youth care. The emphasis lies on (bio)medicine, child psychology and neuroscience.
You practice your professional skills and are introduced to the practice in which you will work later on as a professional.
This subject prepares you to work successfully as an academic
professional in a wide range of educational institutions, in youth
care and organisations.
Two aspects receive particular attention: (1) you practice your didactical skills, enabling you to work as a teacher in higher education and as a trainer in supporting organisations; (2) you practice skills that prepare you to function as a (policy) advisor, by learning to analyse policy and practices, practicing how to draw up an advisory report in an education/youth care/child raising setting and how to professionally communicate about this.
The internship familiarises you with the demands placed on professionals, and you are introduced to the professional field to which they apply their knowledge and understanding. The internship takes place at an institution or an organisation working in the fields of education, youth care or child raising. During the internship you perform activities that introduce you to the work activities of professionals, to working relationships between professionals, the day-to-day practice within professional organisations, such as the SLO (the national centre for curriculum development), local and provincial government, ROCs, Primary and Secondary schools, MBO Council (Dutch Vocational Education and Training Council), Defence for Children International, etcetera.
During your master thesis you learn to do research. You can choose among different kinds of research, relevant to future work, such as educational consultant, policy advisor, roles in youth care or education, positions in institutions such as provincial government, or academic researcher. Types of research besides empirical research are for instance: analysis of documents, case studies or video material, literature reviewing, theoretical research (ethical, legal, philosophical), discourse analysis, historical research.