A-Z of Ethical Communication in Education: J is for Justify


To ‘show or prove to be right or reasonable’.

To be able to ‘justify’ the reasons why we do things, maintain standards, make decisions, explain our mistakes is often what we do when we have a process that is not ‘liked’ by everyone or oneself and therefore it needs to be ‘sold’.  We need to justify ourselves.

Justifying ones own actions is completely different to justifying something that affects the many.  While personal credibility and legitimacy are crucial to pushing a new agenda one must also be able to justify the new agenda with compelling reasons.  How effectively this is/has been done during COVID is hugely debatable. Take ‘mask wearing’ or ‘stay at home’ ‘go to work if you can’ etc. Whilst governments justify for the many, individuals have taken decisions into their own hands whilst justifying themselves.  This can have huge consequences on how the public perceive and hear the justifications made by government and those in power…as with the Dominic Cummings ‘trip’ at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Schools and other education settings have spent the last few months establishing new systems, to enable students to return to learning. Implementing these new processes and procedures has taken a lot of ‘justifying’ to parents, carers, students and staff themselves so that they make sense to those who will have to adopt them.   It has been an incredibly difficult time for those in schools to justify students return when there are so many COVID factors to take into consideration.   I have not envied this task, I have been glad that my children are adults so I have not had to justify a decision for them to return or not return to school and justify all the multitude of rules and processes put in place to make it a safe space.

This situation is complex and at times difficult to see what is right or reasonable. Justifying in these circumstances takes belief, courage and a certain amount of confidence but has been fundamental to getting things done with the best intentions. 

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