Edinburgh Branch Seminar
This paper examines the claim that gossip is damaging to individuals and disruptive to the ethical life of educational institutions.
A rough delineation of gossip and small talk is offered and the suggestion is advanced that gossip, in its disrespect for the lives and experiences of other people, strikes at the heart of moral life: for this reason it should be avoided by individuals and proscribed by professional codes of conduct.
In the rest of the paper a discussion of five examples suggests that rather than a blanket prohibition a more nuanced approach to gossip is more beneficial for the ethical life of an educational institution. The five examples move the discussion away from black and white certainties to highlight the ethical grey areas in which teachers have to operate daily. In this way the immediate topic of this paper, gossip, works as a lens to focus on its underlying concern, the ethical complexities of a teacher’s professional life.
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