PROFESSIONAL ETHICAL CODE, Frank Abrahams, April, 1996

Bernice McCarthy, author of The 4MAT System: Teaching to Learning Styles Using Right/Left Mode Techniques (1980, 1987, 1992), has identified four separate personality types that define learning styles, teaching styles, parenting styles and administrative styles. Her research in experiential learning provides the theoretical grounding and context for my professional ethical code.

Type One teachers and administrators have a vested interest in people. They try to build community in their schools by honoring the diversity of opinion. They believe in shared decision making and are genuinely concerned for the cares and feelings of their faculty and students. Honoring intuition and often basing decisions on gut feelings, they can also be referred to as the imaginative type.

Type Two teachers and administrators fit the model of the traditional teacher or stereotypical principal. These analytical leaders are comfortable when there are rules that define expectations and articulate procedures. Everyone knows what is expected. Consistent in the execution of their duties, they take pride in running classrooms and schools as "well-oiled machines." They design instruction, time lines and objectives in order to have comfort from working with an established plan.

Type Three teachers and administrators are described as "common sense" leaders. They look toward the bottom line. Believing in practical solutions, they are great at solving problems. They seek multiple solutions and possess a skill of getting the job done. Their decisions are based on research because they value the opinions of the experts and believe that one should do what works. In addition, they tend to be wonderful planners.

Type Four teachers and administrators are visionaries and quite dynamic. They are successful at rallying students and other staff. Believing that the current situation can always be better, they strive to transform their classrooms and schools into places where students and teachers can be creative.

The following personal beliefs are a synthesis of perspectives that form the content of my professional ethical code. While one might argue that combining utilitarian traits (justice, rule and rationality) of Types Two and Three with those of deontologist characteristics (caring, concern and connectedness) of Types One and Four might be a strategy to avoid being decisive, it is what feels right for me. A combination of these two philosophies do not represent inconsistent behaviors in my opinion.

(1) Rules provide the foundation for all decision making. In and of themselves, rules provide structure. Based on research and on an understanding of utilitarian ideals, rules provide a foundation for consistent and ethical behavior.

(2) The importance of the individual is not to be underestimated. Student feelings are to be considered and their rights respected, defended and upheld. Since schools exist for students, they should be "student-centered." It is the responsibility of institutions of learning to respect the integrity and individuality of their clients. One must not forget that these customers are the students.

(3) Teachers must be honest when assessing, evaluating or advising students. While every student must be nurtured to identify, explore and reach their potential, they must also be helped to realistically assess and evaluate their limits and liabilities.

(4) Although consistency is important, it is also essential to be flexible and consider the uniqueness of circumstances. No mold fits all.

(6) Students deserve the best. The responsibility of educational leaders (teachers and administrators) is a moral one. This implies a commitment and obligation to being an expert in one's field. By carefully preparing for classes, thoughtfully assessing student's work and solving problems objectively and fairly, a teacher will be effective. However, as an expert, it is also important that the teacher becomes a role model in both one's public and private behavior so that students can emulate them if they so desire.

(7) School leaders have the responsibility to examine all sides of an issue and to suggest several alternatives in solving problems. Schools are communities where culture is part of the nature/nurture development of the students which contributes also to the growth of faculty and administrators.

(8) School leaders have a moral responsibility to seek out and listen to a multiplicity of voices. Although critical theorists may defend this principle as part of the movement toward a truly democratic society, it is presented here as a condition of a moral responsibility.


  • McCarthy, B. (1980, 1987). The 4MAT system - teaching to learning styles with right/left mode techniques. Barrington, IL: EXCEL.
  • McCarthy B. (1989). Leadership behavior inventory. Barrington, IL: EXCEL.
  • McCarthy B. & St. Germain, C. (1993). 4MAT and the principalship - an exploration of the tasks of the principal and the school as a system. Barrington IL: EXCEL.
  • Morris, S. (1993). The 4MAT system slide series. Barrington, IL: EXCEL.