This statement was prepared as part of the APA's Code of Conduct and approved by the board of officers in 2016.
Philosophy teachers aim to teach their students how to think, write, and speak clearly; how to read, understand, and critique philosophical texts; and how to develop their own philosophies in conversation with other people. Central to the success of this project is the teacher’s respect for student learning and the teacher’s interest in doing nothing to interfere with student learning.
Given this, philosophy teachers should do the following:
- Treat students with dignity, never intentionally embarrassing or belittling them, and always communicating with them in clear, respectful, and culturally sensitive ways.
- Nurture intellectual autonomy by maintaining a classroom environment in which students might raise hyperbolic doubts and float views that do not reflect prevailing beliefs and values, while at the same time maintaining a classroom environment in which all students—particularly students from disenfranchised groups—feel welcome and supported.
- Not discriminate against students on the basis of irrelevant differences or tolerate such discrimination against students by other students. Beyond this, teachers should take positive measures both to overcome their own implicit biases and to protect students from the effects of negative stereotypes. Teachers should assess the academic performance of each student on its merits.
- Offer equal educational opportunities to every deserving student.
- Plan well-organized, fair, and level-appropriate courses—courses based upon syllabi that are transparent about the means through which and standards by which students will be evaluated.
- Select relevant materials to teach and present those materials in an informed and balanced way, incorporating competing viewpoints in the spirit of fairness and with intellectual honesty.
- Do not make malicious statements about colleagues or their courses to students, and should not share with students’ information about colleagues’ personal lives.
- Do not capitalize upon their authority for private financial gain.
- Acknowledge any intellectual debt to students who serve as research collaborators.
- Maintain the confidentiality of student records, information, and communication acquired in the course of professional service in a manner consistent with federal law, state law, and local policy, except where reporting is required by law, in which case the teacher should be clear with the student about the legal requirements as early as possible in the conversation.
- Call upon the proper institutional resources to assist students who either directly request academic or psychological support, or indicate, through an assignment, that they might need academic or psychological support. Teachers should alert the appropriate campus authorities to students who might pose a danger to themselves or others.
- Provide students who are writing applications with adequate and timely counseling, and should write informed letters of recommendation. Teachers who doubt their ability to evaluate a student fairly should decline to write a letter.
- Not exploit student teaching assistants by overusing them or using them to promote personal ends. Philosophy teachers should provide student teaching assistants with adequate preparation, continuing guidance, and informed evaluation and should not expect students, graduate or otherwise, to perform unremunerated or uncredited tasks.
With regard to personal relationships between instructors and students, please see the APA's Statement on Sexual Harassment.