AN ETHICAL DILEMMA CASE STUDY AND SHORT ESSAY In partial fulfilment Of the requirement in Ethics and Education At the Cornerstone Institute By Alexander Frost 27 September 2021 TABLE OF CONTENTS PART A: CASE STUDY ............................................................................................................................... 1 1. CASE STUDY 2 – WHAT COURSE OF ACTION SHOULD GLENN AND JASON TAKE? ..................... 1 PART B: SHORT ESSAY – AN ETHICAL DILEMMA ..................................................................................... 1 THE ETHICS OF ENVIRONMENTAL MISMANAGEMENT AT SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS ...................... 1 1. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1 2. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN TEXTBOOKS BUT NOT IN PRACTICE ...................................... 3 3. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................... 4 REFERENCE LIST 1 PART A: CASE STUDY 1. CASE STUDY 2 – WHAT COURSE OF ACTION SHOULD GLENN AND JASON TAKE? In this ethical dilemma Glenn and Jason must realise the fact that they saw Kenneth take ‘something’ from the teacher’s bag, but they don’t know if it is the same thing that is missing or if he was going through her bag at her instruction. Then they need to weigh up the potential implications and ethical considerations of their potential actions. If they say nothing, they will keep everybody’s reputation intact and not get Kenneth in trouble, but they would be lying by omission, and make themselves potentially complicit or risk somebody else being punished for Kenneth’s actions. If they state what they saw in front of the class, it could result in Kenneth’s harsh punishment and damage his reputation even if he’s found innocent. Glenn and Jason might also be branded as ‘tattletales or snitches’ and impact their reputation. They could approach the teacher privately after the class, ask to be kept anonymous and get the teacher to take up the issue with Kenneth. In this instance they would not be giving Kenneth a chance to come clean and he might be harshly punished, or he might not own up and they would be called in to confront him and suffer Kenneth’s disdain anyway. I feel they should wait until after class and approach Kenneth directly. Let him know what they saw and to avoid Kenneth potentially lying, give him an ultimatum that unless he tells the teacher what he was doing and what he removed from her bag, they will be forced to let the teacher know what they saw and then let the process take its course. This way they will give him a chance to come clean and avoid harsh punishment or explain himself and not risk reputational damage to Kenneth or themselves. [Word count: 297] PART B: SHORT ESSAY – AN ETHICAL DILEMMA THE ETHICS OF ENVIRONMENTAL MISMANAGEMENT AT SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS 1. INTRODUCTION Humanity is facing an unprecedented threat to our survival caused by environmental degradation and human induced climate change. At a United Nations Security Council meeting in February 2021 climate change was described as: “the biggest threat to security 2 that humans have ever faced” (Security Council Report June, 2021). In 2015 Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme stated: “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human rights of our generation, posing a serious risk to the fundamental rights to life, health, food and an adequate standard of living of individuals and communities across the world.” (Climate Change and Human Rights, 2015). This said, schools the world over have an ethical obligation to meet the challenge presented by this crisis, educate their students about it, and establish behavioural norms to mitigate and address the effects of climate change, and the associated environmental degradation. Whether from a religious viewpoint of enshrining ‘Gods’ creation, or from a legal viewpoint of not polluting and having the right to a healthy environment, or from a general ethic of care for people, society and our current and future wellbeing, the ethics compel schools, government and society at large to act decisively against climate change. In many South African schools’ decisive action against climate change is often found lacking and is especially apparent in government schools within the quintile 1 and 2 categories (the poorest schools). School management and policies in many of these schools have been observed to be not only failing to act against climate change but are allowing or establishing a normative culture that induces environmental degradation and behavioural practices which strongly lead to climate change. Many of these schools have been observed to utilise very poor on-site waste management practices. They have few rubbish bins and don’t make use of municipal waste removal services. Instead, the school waste from the classrooms and learners’ litter in the communal spaces is gathered by school caretakers and burned, the smoke from which often engulfs the classrooms and school grounds. Smoke from burning waste causes significant air pollution, damages human health and is a serious contributor to climate change (Godfrey., et al 2019). Moreover, serious build-up of litter, leaking taps, minimal trees and gardens can be seen at these same schools. These schools are not providing their learners with a healthy environment and are worryingly establishing a behavioural norm of littering, dumping, and burning waste. The failure of teachers, school management and governmental school departments to mitigate their own environmental impact, as well the negative behavioural norms they are establishing, represents an ethical dilemma of serious proportions. 3 2. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN TEXTBOOKS BUT NOT IN PRACTICE In 1995 South Africa released a White paper on Education and Training, and one of the key principals within it was the inclusion of environmental education across all levels of programmes and training, promoting sustainable living through environmental literacy (Songqwaru, 2012:15). It is from this process that that environmental education has become an integral part of our new South African Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) (Songqwaru, 2012:15-16). In the Wildlife and Environment Societies’ Teacher Education Workbook 2009, Environmental Education (EE) is described as teaching which seeks to expose students to significant environmental concerns and their mitigating sustainability practices (Rosenberg, 2009:3). According to Hebe (2019:8) CAPS ensures the integration of EE across all grades and subjects. Although the EE being taught within our schools is not resulting in good waste management practice. In a case study by van Niekerk (2014:2) on waste management in South African schools, it was shown that although the sampled students were ‘acutely’ aware of the negative health and environmental effects poor waste management has, it didn’t result into good waste management practices at their homes or school. The short coming in good environmental management and practice seen in many schools does not appear to be caused by an inadequate curriculum. Songqwaru (2012:16) points out there is a lack of scientific understanding of environmental issues with many teachers. Reddy (2021:169-170) adds that teachers who qualified before 2012-2014 when CAPS was adopted, did not receive training in many EE concepts, and furthermore including EE into teacher training has not been easily implemented. The context of a lesson and a teachers’ character may be a contributing factors: “Acceptance of new attitude depends on who is presenting the knowledge, how it is presented, how the person is perceived, the credibility of the communicator, and the conditions by which the knowledge was received.” Desa et al (2010, 643-648) Although many teachers may struggle with scientific understanding or may have not received adequate EE training, these may not be lawfully or ethically acceptable explanations to the environmental mismanagement problems at schools. As per the South African Council of Educators’ Code of Professional Ethics (2016): ‘teachers have an ethical responsibility to ensure they keep abreast of educational developments.’. As purveyors of societies knowledge, teachers should stay up to date with developments in their fields. Furthermore, the SACE code of ethics requires teachers to promote and uphold the country’s constitution and laws, as well as help learners develop a set of values consistent with such (SACE code of professional ethics, 2016). Littering, Illegal dumping and the burning of it in a public space are illegal under South Africa’s National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (No. 59 of 2008). They are also in contravention of South 4 Africa’s Bill of Rights which enshrines our right to an environment that is not harmful to our health or well-being; and to prevent pollution and ecological degradation. This also shows no real commitment by the teacher to the content of the lessons as their collective actions directly contradict what is being studied in class, thus nullifying the lesson. Desa et al (2010: 643-648) points out that environmental education can be broken into two aspects: perception and behaviour, perceiving the problems and changing one’s behaviour to protect the environment. Core values are learned through our actions and doing (Nielsen, 2005). Much of what a child learns is through the action (Michael, 2006). Many environmental values being learned at school are not though the curriculum but through actions. Schools as institutions of learning, prepare students with skills and knowledge for life and career after school. They establish our daily behaviour which becomes our culture, or in the words of Pierre Bourdieu, the renowned French sociologist, our habitus. Bourdieu felt that institutions such as schools would replicate socio-cultural conditions and it was through habitus that people acquired their worldview and internalised these behaviours as second nature (Gillespie, 2009). When unethical behaviour is normalised at school it can percolate into societies’ culture as a social norm. If we relate habitus to a failure of schools to adhere to proper environmental waste management, students may end up with the understanding that it is okay to act in a manner that is harmful to the environment and people, and that our collective actions which may result in global environmental disasters are acceptable. 3. CONCLUSION From an ethical viewpoint it stands to reason that the Department of Education, many individual schools, and teachers are failing children and their collective futures. These failures see a breakdown in constitutional rights to a healthy environment, are in contradiction to our bill of rights, as well as the SACE code of ethics. Brennan (2017:43) states in her paper “the urgency on climate change demands significant changes of practice in schools and to teacher education.” Government should increase spending of school infrastructure for waste disposal, collection, sorting and recycling. Teacher training and education should strongly emphasise the need for behaving in accordance with the law and curriculum. An active learning approach like educational theorist Paulo Freire’s problemsolving approach (Freire 1972), has been strongly suggested as the best approach to EE (Reddy 2021:174). It’s in our collective interest that we take urgent action and put education at the forefront in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. REFERENCE LIST Baker, M. et al., 2019. Environmental Ethics Education. Christchurch, New Zealand : Eubios Ethics Institute. Available: https://www.eubios.info/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/EnvironmentEthicsEducationsmall.18 7122256.pdf Brennan, M. 2017. Struggles for teacher education in the age of the Anthropocene, Journal of Education, Issue 69, pp 43-63. Available: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/188221948.pdf Freire, P. 2005. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York. Herder and Herder. Available: https://envs.ucsc.edu/internships/internship-readings/freire-pedagogy-of-the-oppressed.pdf Gillespie, L. 2009. Pierre Bourdieu: Habitus. Critical legal thinking, law and the political. https://criticallegalthinking.com/2019/08/06/pierre-bourdieu-habitus/ Accessed: 21 September 2021 Godfrey, L. et al., 2019. Solid waste management in Africa: Governance failure or Development Opportunity? In: Regional development in Africa, Ed Edomah, N. Available: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/68270 Hebe, H. 2019. Locating the Position of Environmental Education in the South African School Curriculum: The Case of Grade R, Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 15(9), Available: https://doi.org/10.29333/ejmste/108486 Hoegh-Guldberg, et al 2018: Impacts of 1.5ºC Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems. In: An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, Eds. Masson-Delmotte, V. et al. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Chapter3_Low_Res.pdf Michael., J. 2006. Where’s the evidence that active learning works? Advances in Physiology Education. 30/4,2006: 159–167, Available: https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00053.2006 Nielsen, T. 2005. Values education through thinking, feeling and doing. The Social Educator. 23. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254845659_Values_education_through_thinking_f eeling_and_doing Reddy, C. 2021. Environmental education, social justice and teacher education: enabling meaningful environmental learning in local contexts. South African Journal of Higher Education, 35(1), 161-177. https://dx.doi.org/10.20853/35-1-4427 Rosenberg, E. 2009. Teacher Education Workbook for Environment and Sustainability Education. Rhodes University Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit, Grahamstown. Distributed through Share-Net, Howick. Available: https://www.sanbi.org/wpcontent/uploads/2018/03/conservation-ed-teacher-ed-workbook-environment-andsustainability-education.pdf Security Council Report June 2021. The UN Security Council and Climate Change. Security Council Report, Research Report. Available: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/climate_security_2021.pdf Songqwaru, N., 2012. Supporting Environment and Sustainability Knowledge in the Grade 10 Life Sciences Curriculum and Assessment Policy Context: A case study of the Fundisa for Change Teacher Education and Development Programme Pilot Project. Rhodes Master’s University. In education. Thesis. Available: https://www.ru.ac.za/media/rhodesuniversity/content/elrc/documents/historical/SONGQWAR U-MEd-TR13-261.pdf South African Council of Educators (SACE). 2016. Code of Professional Ethics for Educators. Centurion: SACE Available: https://www.sace.org.za/assets/documents/uploads/sace_12998-2020-09-09SACE%20Booklet%20Yellow.pdf UNEP. 2015. Climate Change and Human Rights. Available: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/climate-change-and-human-rights van Niekerk, I. 2014. Waste management behaviour: a case study of school children in Mpumalanga, Environmental South Africa. Potchefstroom: Management. North-West University. Dissertation Magister in Available: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.824.34&rep=rep1&type=pdf Widdowson, D. Dixon, R. Peterson, E. Rubie-Davies, C. & Irving, S. 2014. Why go to school? Student, parent and teacher beliefs about the purposes of school. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. 35. Available: 10.1080/02188791.2013.876973. Plagiarism Declaration / Honour Pledge Plagiarism is inconsistent with several of Cornerstone’s core values: inasmuch as it involves academic dishonesty it is contrary to our value of integrity; it does not give due credit to others and thus constitutes a lack of respect; it reflects a lack of thinking for oneself and thus demonstrates a lack of creativity; and it is completely opposite of a commitment to excellence. In recognition of this truth, I hereby declare that: 1. I understand that plagiarism is to use another’s work and represent it as one’s own, and I know that plagiarism is wrong. 2. I have used the Harvard Referencing convention for citation and referencing. Each contribution to, and quotation in, this essay/report/project from the work(s) of other people has been attributed (to the author(s)), and has been cited (with in-text referencing) and referenced (with full bibliographic details). 3. I acknowledge that copying someone else’s assignment or essay, or part of it, is wrong, and declare that this essay/report/project is my own work. 4. I have not allowed, and will not allow, anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work. 5. I have read what the Academic Guidelines and Yearbook documents say about plagiarism and understand that plagiarism may result in failure of an assignment, failure of a module, and/or other disciplinary actions. Signature: Alexander Frost Date: 28 September 2021 Note that agreement to this declaration does not exonerate the student from Cornerstone Institute’s Academic Integrity Policy.