Ethics Essay Example


Ethics refers to the principles and rules that define what is wrong and right code of conduct. Employees with different education background are creating competitiveness. There are many ethical issues faced by teachers in Saudi Arabia. There are national education policies that create more ethical dilemmas for teachers in Saudi Arabia (Educational Affairs Council of the old Icelandic Teachers’ Union (KÍ), 1991) Ethical dilemma also known as moral dilemma has been a major challenge too many ethical theorists include Plato the early theorist. An ethical dilemma is a situation where moral obligation conflict in such a manner that there is any possible solution to the dilemma and it is morally intolerable. However, some people say ethics is subjective in judgment on whether an act is wrong or right (Cranston et al., 2000).

Ethical dilemma

In addition, ethical dilemma can be any situation in which guiding moral principles cannot guide on what course of action should be taken. All professions have their own guiding code of conduct and ethics. Teaching as a profession has its own code of conduct and ethics that should be observed at all times (Cranston et al., 2000). Teachers play an important role in the children’s education especially Saudi Arabia. The major dilemma teachers faces in Saudi Arabia is that, teachers have been in dilemma on whether to teach the students Islamic education only or to introduce other courses in the curriculum, but some parents, administrators, and students are against it (Leo et al. 2004).

Ethical dilemmas in education will address the ethical or moral dilemmas that teachers face in their day-to-day operations in education comprehensively. There are various challenges or dilemmas facing teachers in Saudi Arabia. It has been encouraging Islamic education, which has created a dilemma in teaching as a profession (Stanko, 2008). Islamic education was to ensure Islamic believers understand God’s laws and live in accordance to the commandment in the Quran. It becomes a dilemma to teachers who wanted to introduce nonreligious subjects under the Ottoman rule. Some students accepted together with parents and administrators, while others are against it. This is a dilemma teachers face because it was difficult for them to decide who to listen to yet religious values and code of ethics had to be adhered to. Parents, administrators, and students gave them pressure some accepting it and others against it (Simpson & Bill, 2007).

Furthermore, some parents, teachers, and students were against the introduction of non-religious subjects such as foreign languages, business, engineering, arithmetic, and other subjects in the Arabic curriculum (Leo et al. 2004). Teachers faced resistance in class as some students walked out of class; hence, a teacher is in dilemma on whether he should teach or not. According to Resanen, some students support the introduction of the new non-religious courses as others are against because of the religious values and beliefs (Stanko, 2008). Some of the students who accepted to pursue their studies beyond elementary level could be taught in the informal network of lectures called halaqat. This was still an ethical or moral dilemma on whether the teachers should continue teaching or not. Teachers were left undecided on “whether to support the parents, administrators or students who were for or against” (Educational Affairs Council of the old Icelandic Teachers’ Union (KÍ), 1991, p. 2).

The dilemma experienced by teachers in Saudi Arabia is strongly related to the religious values and beliefs of Islam. Most people value Islamic education in Saudi Arabia because it is their

Culture and the way of life.

Scenario of ethical dilemma to teachers

A good scenario to explain this dilemma in Saudi Arabia that a teacher might face in a classroom is that; in some schools, a teacher have to introduce teaching other courses apart from Islamic education. A Teacher is left not knowing what to do; whether to introduce them or not. In addition, it is difficult for a teacher in a classroom to decide whether to teach those new courses because some students can walk out of class as others remain. Some have already started teaching business courses while others have not because of the existing dilemma. This scenario explains clearly how teacher’s faces a dilemma in Saudi Arabia making it difficult to decide on what is wrong and what is right. Both choices are equally good but choosing the best is a dilemma teacher’s face in Saudi Arabia.

A teacher is also discriminated for starting other courses that are against the Islamic laws and culture. This is a scenario that have been experienced in Saudi Arabia by some teachers; hence, leaving them not knowing what to do. A Teacher is left in a dilemma in a classroom on whether to adhere to the religious values that forbid teaching of other non-religious courses such as business and engineering. Making a decision on whether to teach or not is difficult and teachers have found themselves in such a scenario in a class. Making a decision as teacher provided these choices is not easy because at the same time you want to adhere to religious values and believes, which do not support teaching of non-religious courses. As an Australian teacher, I feel that it would be a very difficult choice for me to encourage or even counsel.

Solution to the ethical dilemma

Solutions to the dilemmas facing teachers in Saudi Arabia will be based on the research by based on the documents provided because they provide variety of solutions. To solve this challenges and dilemmas, the ministry of education should set code of conduct and ethics in consultation with the teachers. According to Rasanen (2000) in his article, the ministry should make it compulsory that all students should learn other courses apart from Islamic education. It should be mandatory but not optional that it does create a dilemma to teachers in Saudi Arabia. Education should be compulsory for all because it is the right of all children to access education irrespective of their religion (Loewenberg & Dolgoff, 2000). Utilitarian theory of ethics should be upheld. The theory states that, anything good should be for the benefit of the majority and not a few people (Dodd, 2005). The courses that should be introduced should not create division between the teachers and parent, students, and other stakeholders. The ministry of education should be fully in charge of all new courses in the country so that teachers cannot be in dilemma on whether to teach them or not. According to Rasanen (2000), if the ministry decides to continue with the Islamic education only, then it will be clear to the teachers that they are not suppose to teach other courses (Illingworth, 2004).

Secondly, the religious clerics, the ministry, and other stakeholders such as parents, students and teachers should be consulted on what should be done in order to avoid the dilemma teachers face while in class. Utilitarianism theory should be applied where a solution should be for the benefit of all not a few people (Loewenberg & Dolgoff, 2000).

Basing on the accumulated evidence, I as a teacher , would first have to seek advice from the authorities whether I am suppose to teach non-religious courses or not. In process of seeking this advice, I first have to explain to them of the situation. This is because the school authorities understand and can guide me on the way forward (Simpson & Bill, 2007). This is one of the best solutions because they have powers and authority to make final decisions on what should be done. Furthermore, they can amend situations accordingly. Therefore, I have to report the matter to relevant authorities within the institution so that a possible solution is arrived at (Cranston et al., 2000). Nevertheless, before that, I have to address the students and tell them to wait for further clarification from the authorities. The top management is the one to set guidelines, policies, and procedures to be followed if the non-religious courses are to be introduced (Leo et al. 2004).

Teacher’s professional code of ethics

Children’s future should be the topmost concern for every person in the society. However, since teachers are with the children most of the times, their professional ethics aims at children balanced development and well-being. Professional activities are based on both the professional knowledge and skills and also on value and norm basis. Teaching profession in Saudi Arabia is very sensitive (Simpson & Bill, 2007). Unlike other types of professions such as doctors and lawyers who have very old codes of ethics. The roles of teachers in the society and the basic values of their tasks have been clear. These basically entails to promote and cherish health and to safeguard justice. Due to this complexity, their actions are controlled by law. However, in some countries the codes of conduct and ethics have been published. Teachers are supposed to be confidential, administer discipline to correct not to punish, and maintenance of privacy of the students, parents, and other stakeholders such as administrators (Mitchell, 2008).

The procedures should be followed when administering justices and discipline to students. The teachers in Saudi Arabia are expected to follow the set goals and procedures in administering justice to the students who deviate from the code of conduct and ethics (Rasanen, 2000). Teachers play a crucial role passing knowledge to students though they face a lot of dilemmas (Cranston et al. 2000).

Ethical principles can be acquired through training from teachers who are committed and dedicated in their work. Decisions will be based on the acceptable behaviors and ethical values that can be acquired from the teachers. Saudi Arabia education administrators want their culture to be maintained because “they believe that western cultures are inconsistent with the ethical values, cultures, standards, and behaviors that are acceptable in the country” (Leo et al. 2004, p. 14). Though teachers are, suppose to ensure all educational policies in the teaching profession are adhered to, there are no clear guidelines on what should be maintained as the standards. Moral or ethical dilemmas affect the education sector or teaching profession in Saudi Arabia (Illingworth, 2004).

This will lead to acceptable solution to the problem being experienced. Teacher’s professional ethics are important if education system is to be matched and compared with that of other countries in the world. Several questions have been raised in “Saudi Arabia about teacher’s professional ethics because they are not connected to the whole education system creating a gap” (Rasanen, 2000, p. 129).

Even though ethics have been mentioned in the document and policies that regulates teacher education, it has never been put in action. Teacher’s professional ethics should define the moral, ethical, motivational, and skills that will help solve ethical problems and challenges in the teaching profession especially in Saudi Arabia. Solving challenges requires moral principles and ethics that will solve the actual problems in the teaching profession morally and ethically. I should therefore observed the culture of human rights because it will improve consciousness and good behaviors among all stakeholders in the profession (Leo et al. 2004).

Teaching as a moral profession

Teaching like any other professions has its own moral values, which must be adhered to. Teaching profession has principle tasks and specific moral code to follow. A teacher for example is not just a mere transmitter of the culture nor a person to just realize what books, curricula and authorities. Teaching and education is laden with a lot of values (Dodd, 2005). Therefore, any teacher should ensure that his or her work is being knowledgeable, sociable, creative and morally sensitive. The teacher; therefore, should be aware of children’s vulnerability and his or her special responsibility for them, their future and through them for the societal future (Mitchell, 2008).

Teachers with a high level of moral professionalism have a deep obligation to help students learn. There are some ways in which teacher can demonstrate his or her moral obligation. Coming to work regularly and on time is one way. A teacher who is moral should report to work at the stipulated time (Simpson & Bill, 2007). Secondly, for a teacher to be moral in his or her activities, he should be well informed about their student’s matters. The aspects of planning also come. A moral teacher should be able to plan and conduct his or her classes with care. It is also a moral obligation of the teacher to cooperate and if necessary confront the parents in cases such as underachievement of student.

There are unrealistic demands imposed on teachers especially on their performance and that of their students. It is irrational to demand what may not be realistic because this is against the professional ethics and code of conduct. Developing and maintaining ethical principles and professional practices (Lo, 2009). These codes of conduct are meant to build an ethical educator so he or she can make a positive or an impact in a person’s life. There are unethical practices in education as a profession that can be costly to the future generation if they are not corrected early. Teachers or educators are supposed to be the role models to the students in the development of their future careers. It is believed that this is only possible if the teachers use the ethical practices and the required code of conduct and ethics (Illingworth, 2004).

Career development in children is essential because it will determine their future success or failure. If the children are not brought up to understand what they are supposed to do and what not; then, they might engage themselves in unethical or unacceptable practices. Education as a profession should stand up for integrity, truthfulness, openness, and honesty. This can be achieved through the teachers because they have an “obligation or duty to set the standards for ethics and ethical practices to be adhered to” (Leo et al. 2004, p. 9).

Though teachers were to set standards and code of conduct in the teaching profession, they were in dilemma on whether to accept the cultural values to dominate or promote education and teaching ethical values. By 1981, 81% of the total enrolment was boys and 43% were girls. This was a dilemma because it was difficult to determine whether it was right or wrong to discriminate girls. Teachers could not discharge their duties as expected because it was not mandatory for both boys and girls to attend classes (Reamer, 1999).

Teachers had no option though this became a dilemma because they wanted to set code of conduct and ethics that could be followed by all students. This was a dilemma because it was difficult for the teachers to convince the parents, student, and some administrators who opposed compulsory attendance of students to class. In all professions in other countries, there is a code of conduct and ethics to be adhered to and ethical principles guide all the operations. Teachers in Saudi Arabia have not been able to exercise their ethical conduct and professionalism because of conflicts of interests (Illingworth, 2004).

Theories of ethics

Professional dilemmas in teaching profession can be handled based on one or two of the many theories available. There are various philosophical ways of underpinning ethical issues (Stanko, 2008). These can be classified broadly as end-based ethics care, and rule based ethics.

Reamer (1990) values hierarchy is one of the theoretical models that aims at describing how ethical principles can be prioritize. According to Reamers principles, there are six guidelines that should be followed. To him, the rules against basic harm to an individual’s survival takes precedence over rules against harms such as lying or revealing confidential (Shaw, 2008). An individual right to determination takes precedence over his or her right to basic well-being. Obligation to rules takes precedence over disobeying them. Well being takes precedence over obligation to obey rules. Though these principles are good to some point, I feel that they should be adjusted accordingly since the current era is very different from the past (Hughes, 2009).

Virtue ethics approach describes a blend of good character, and the way people act in relation to the natural laws. In virtue ethics, morality is best understood in terms of inner traits of character. There are values, which constitute valued traits. Such virtues include virtues such as temperance, justice, wisdom and even charity. Virtues are not inborn laws. They can be taught and developed through practice. Therefore, I feel that if we as teachers would base our ethics in these principles, then we can change the ethical system to fit the current needs (Cranston et al. 2000).

Teaching profession should also ensure that virtues are instilled to the learners. “In Saudi Arabia, the teaching profession should be planned well such that virtues ethics can be involved in the learning process” (Rasanen, 2000, p. 134). Deontology is another guide to what ethics should look like. This term is used to describe the fact that any right action should be done for its own sake and that it should not be dependent on the intention and motive of the doer. Therefore the ethical issues in Saudi Arabia “should be reviewed as they are more concern on the motive of the community, that is, they are more inclined to religion.” This principle implies that the ethical issues in Saudi Arabia are deficient in this principle and hence it would be a good idea if the deontological principle were applied (Dodd, 2005, p. 23).

In addition, teaching profession should be holistic in nature rather than focus on one issue. Utilitarianism is another important approach that should be considered while offering teaching services in Saudi Arabia (Shaw, 2008). In other words, this approach implies that any moral act should have one of its intentions in bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number.

Education system in Saudi Arabia

The way Saudi Arabia approach the issue of education is that, it is based on the Muslim culture because the country is dominated by Muslims. The government of Saudi Arabia is so concerned with religion aspect of education. The importance of religion has made Saudi Arabia system of education to be dominated by teaching of religion at the expense of other subjects like businesses, engineering, and other courses (Garber, 2008). The education policy of Saudi Arabia included among its objectives the promotion of the «belief in the One God. They also promote Islam as the way of life, and Muhammad as God’s Messenger.” however, I feel that it would be of a greater help if religion were integrated with other disciplines because the current era is very dynamic and competitive (Dodd, 2005, p. 22).

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