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Ethical Guidelines

Ethical guidelines for teaching and counselling at the Norwegian Academy of Music – to whom do they apply and what do they say?

To whom do the guidelines apply?

The ethical guidelines for government service apply to all staff members at the NMH, while the supplementary guidelines apply to teachers and counsellors. Teaching and counselling involve a number of ethical challenges because students are in a vulnerable position. This applies especially to one-on-one teaching and counselling.

All staff members at the NMH are required to acquaint themselves with and comply with the ethical guidelines for government service. Teachers and counsellors are, in addition, required to acquaint themselves with and comply with the ethical guidelines for teaching and counselling.

Academic advisers must inform students as to the content of the ethical guidelines when they begin their studies at the NMH. It is in the interests of both students and the NMH that students become acquainted with these guidelines. When registering for the semester, students must confirm that they have read the guidelines. In the event of any breach of the ethical guidelines the academic adviser, Director of Academic Affairs or Principal must be contacted.

In what follows, “teacher” will be used as a general term to describe instructors and counsellors, while “teaching” will be used as a general term to describe instruction and counselling.

The teacher as a role model

The teacher must consciously seek to serve as a good role model for his or her students.

Student evaluation of teaching

The teacher is responsible for giving the students an opportunity to evaluate all teaching that is carried out. The teaching should be evaluated while it is taking place, and may be adjusted by the teacher in line with the results of the evaluation.

Respect for students’ personal and professional integrity

The teacher must show respect for the student’s personal and academic integrity, and refrain from actions or statements that could be perceived as an attack on the student’s dignity. The student should be invited to comment on any negative reactions he or she has to the teacher’s language or behaviour, either when the event occurs or afterwards at an appropriate time.

The teacher must avoid behaviour that could appear to be exclusionary and offensive to individuals and groups. Teachers should be especially careful with regard to words or actions that could be perceived as sexual advances. Refer to the “Action plan to combat troublesome/threatening sexual attention at the NMH”.

Asymmetry in the teaching situation

Asymmetry exists in every teaching relationship. The teacher must be aware of this asymmetry.

Professional knowledge and authority must not be exploited in order to gain professional or personal advantages at the expense of the student, or be used to offend or oppress the student.

Dual relationships in the teacher/student connection

Dual relationships should not arise. The basic principle in such a situation is that the teaching relationship should be discontinued.

A dual relationship refers to a situation where the teacher holds roles other than the purely profession one in relations with a student, for instance when the teacher has a romantic or family relationship with the student. The teacher must be conscious of his or her role, and has a particular responsibility to refrain from entering into relationships that place the student in a vulnerable position. As a result of a dual relationship, a problem could arise in the teacher’s impartiality towards the student’s work.

If it is impossible to discontinue the teaching relationship for any reason, the parties must attempt to find other suitable solutions. In this case the parties must be aware that the basic principle has been contravened, and thus show extreme caution in their further collaboration.

Professional relationships

In cases where the student and the teacher have a professional relationship outside the educational institution, the teacher must be aware of the challenges this can entail in his or her relationship with the student.

The teacher must be conscious of his or her role as the student’s teacher at the NMH, also in connections outside the educational institution when the teacher and the student act as colleagues. The teacher must at all times show discretion in discussing internal affairs at his or her own institution.

Trust and confidence

The teacher must not give priority to his or her own needs when teaching, for example by confiding problems of a professional or personal nature to the student, unless these problems affect his or her ability to teach and thus have an influence on the student’s work.

Teachers should exercise discretion when discussing their colleagues with students. The teacher holds particular responsibility for being cautious when referring to internal conditions regarding colleagues.

The teacher is subject to the duty of confidentiality, but cannot assume that the student exercises the same care with regard to confidential information as the teacher is obligated to exercise.

Responsibility for the students’ wellbeing

The teacher should be open and attentive to the personal circumstances of the student that could influence his or her studies. Support and encouragement from the teacher are usually valuable to the student.

If the teacher believes that a student needs help in addressing personal problems, the basic principle should be that the student is encouraged to seek help from the relevant services. It is taken for granted that confidential information will not be communicated to third parties.

Professional integrity

If the teacher wants to use a student’s material in his or her own publication, research or practice, the teacher must obtain the student’s permission in advance.

Conflicts between the teacher and student(s)

In the event of any conflicts between the teacher and student(s), both parties are responsible for finding solutions. If the conflict cannot be resolved internally between the parties involved, they can contact the Director of Academic Affairs or the Principal.