Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2015 Issue »

    Moral Injury and the Ethics of Educational Injustice

    In this article, Meira Levinson presents a case study of school personnel who must decide whether to expel a fourteen-year-old student for bringing marijuana onto campus. She uses the case to explore a class of ethical dilemmas in which educators are obligated to take action that fulfills the demands of justice but under conditions in which no just action is possible because of contextual and school-based injustices. She argues that under such circumstances, educators suffer moral injury, the trauma of perpetrating significant moral wrong against others despite one’s wholehearted desire and responsibility to do otherwise. Educators often try to avoid moral injury by engaging in loyal subversion, using their voice to protest systemic injustices, or exiting the school setting altogether. No approach, however, enables educators adequately to fulfill their obligation to enact justice and hence to escape moral injury. Society hence owes educators moral repair—most importantly, by restructuring educational and other social systems so as to mitigate injustice. Levinson concludes that case studies of dilemmas of educational justice, like the case study with which she begins the article, may enable philosophers, educators, and members of the general public to engage in collective, phronetic reflection. This process may further reduce moral injury and enhance educators’ capacities to enact justice in schools.

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    Meira Levinson is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, following eight years as an eighth-grade teacher in the Atlanta and Boston public schools. She is the author of No Citizen Left Behind (Harvard University Press, 2012), which has won awards from the National Council for the Social Studies, American Educational Studies Association, American Political Science Association, and North American Society for Social Philosophy. Her other publications include The Demands of Liberal Education (Oxford, 1999) and Making Civics Count (Harvard Education Press, 2012), which she coedited with David Campbell and Frederick Hess. A 2014–2015 Guggenheim Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, Levinson is drafting a book about theorizing educational justice. She and Jacob Fay are also coediting a forthcoming book of case studies and commentaries about dilemmas of educational justice.
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    Summer 2015 Issue


    Undoing Appropriateness
    Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education
    Occupational Control in Education
    The Logic and Leverage of Epistemic Communities
    Moral Injury and the Ethics of Educational Injustice
    Geographies of Indigenous Leaders
    Landscapes and Mindscapes in the Pacific Northwest
    Doing and Teaching Disciplinary Literacy with Adolescent Learners
    A Social and Cultural Enterprise

    Book Notes

    How to Innovate
    Mary Moss Brown and Alisa Berger

    Inspiring Teaching
    Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Eran Tamir, and Karen Hammerness

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