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Learning Task 2: The Ethics Assignment 1

Learning Task 2: The Ethics Assignment


EDUC 525 L01
November 9, 2018

Atinderpal Bahad
Cassandra Wong
Natasha Randhawa
Nicole Hodgson
Nusrat Premji
Thomas Wood
Learning Task 2: The Ethics Assignment 2

Scenario

Ms. Black was a grade 12 teacher at Greenwood High School. During the school year,

she noticed a female student in her class struggling academically and socially. Ms. Black wanted

to reach out to this student to offer her support and to create a better relationship with her. She

started chatting with her more often in class and after school. Consequently, over the next few

months the student began to disclose information about her personal life and circumstances. This

led up to the student confiding in Ms. Black that she was pregnant, and she is contemplating an

abortion. Below we analyze Ms. Black’s situation based on the three ethical schools of thought.

Deontological Ethics Viewpoint

Looking at the scenario through the lens of the deontological school of ethics, Ms. Black

has a duty to do what is morally correct. According to the deontological school of ethics, the

ethical decision must be categorically imperative, meaning that the right thing is universally

applicable to all people, regardless of any personal opinion and biases. They must abide by the

ethical value regardless of any personal consequences it may bring (Donlevy, October 18, 2018).

The challenge of deontological ethics is that ethics in general is subjective and determined by the

person in question. There are various factors that influence their subjective beliefs which are;

religion, organizations, society, family and personal experience (Donlevy, October 18, 2018).

In today’s society, pro-life and pro-choice beliefs divide the population and there is not

one universally accepted view point like there would be for something like murder. In this

scenario, Ms. Black is a part of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and as a result she has

specific codes she must follow. Since ethics are subjective based on the person she must accept

these codes as universally applicable to all Alberta teachers. According to the ATA Code of

Conduct, Ms. Black would be ethically bound to not disclose the pregnancy while also uploading
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the dignity and respect of the student. What is the age of the student? Therefore, she must take

the action that is morally right, regardless of the consequences. Despite what Ms. Black’s own

beliefs regarding the pregnancy may be, she must allow the student to have the correct resources

to make an informed decision.

The ATA code of conduct (2018) states that a teacher should respect the dignity and

rights of all persons without prejudice (1). She can provide the student with contact information

for the guidance counsellor, family doctor, and sexual health clinic. By providing the student

with all pertinent information, Ms. Black is doing her duty to do what is morally expected of her

as a teacher, not to act based on her own personal bias.

Virtue Ethics Viewpoint

In the scenario above, Ms. Black has various options in regard to providing her student

with advice. She can advise her student to approach the school counsellor, where the student will

be educated about different options that are available to her. Another option would be, Ms. Black

can deny any advice to her student, and redirect her to her family doctor. In addition, she can

offer her student advice based on her own point of view. If Ms. Black is pro-life, she can

indirectly guide the student to continue with the pregnancy. However, if Ms. Black is pro-choice

she may indirectly guide the student to have an abortion. Considering the virtue ethics lens,

“Virtue ethics relates to predispositions of the person’s character which have developed over

time and resulted in virtuous habits of action exemplifying a virtuous character (Donlevy,

October 23, 2018). Furthermore, there are things we need to consider such as: is this decision in

concert with our fundamental and true character? (Donlevy, October 23, 2018). As a teacher, the

decision made should be based solely on what is best for the student. According to the ATA

(2018), “The teacher acts in a manner which maintains the honour and dignity of the profession”
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(18). Secondly, we would need to consider if the proposed decision is made, how will it affect

others sense of their own ethical awareness? (Donlevy, October 23, 2018). By giving the student

advice on her pregnancy, Ms. Black is indirectly imposing her views onto the student. However,

redirecting the student to a qualified professional would be the best decision. From the virtue

ethics standpoint, Ms. Black should not give her student advice regarding her pregnancy Yes – in

public education I believe you are correct. because it can cause a conflicting decision for the

student.

Utilitarian Ethical Viewpoint

Taking into consideration the utilitarian viewpoint, Ms. Black is tasked with making a

decision that maximizes ‘Utility’. As Donlevy & Walker (2010) state, “The utilitarian sees the

ethical value of an act, or inaction as the case may be, in the utility that is the happiness, to the

greatest number of people”.

Within this ethical lens, we must consider Ms. Black’s role in the student’s life. In the

current situation, it can be argued that Ms. Black provides a positive utility in the student’s life.

In line with the ATA Code of Professional Conduct (2018), a teacher must respect the dignity

and rights of all students without prejudice and to also treat all her students with dignity and

respect, regardless of the student’s personal circumstances (1 and 18). Not only does Ms. Black

serve as this student’s teacher, Ms. Black also offers friendship and is making a concerted effort

to better the life of the student.

If Ms. Black took a pro-life stance, the student contemplating an abortion would also

have to consider the loss of a life, which would therefore have a negative utility for the unborn

child and for Ms. Black’s personal beliefs. Ms. Black would likely take the stance that the

student would be actively participating in a murder, as this is what a pro-life stance entails
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(Calgary Pro-Life, 2018). For Ms. Black, a positive utility would be gained from this situation

should the student choose not to have an abortion.

For the student, the utility is complicated. Yes – this is a very difficult scenario for all

involved. Should the student go forward with getting an abortion, she would consequently not

have the financial or personal responsibility to raise the child. This has the potential to produce a

positive utility for the student as she will not have a dependent to be responsible for. Given that

she is in high school, not having a child would allow her more time to dedicate to her studies and

accomplishing whatever tasks may exist for her to graduate. If the student decides to proceed

with continuing with the pregnancy she will be responsible for raising and supporting the child.

This will involve providing resources and care which may not be readily accessible or realistic

for the student given her stage in life. If this student is ready for motherhood, then a positive

utility would be produced. However, should the student not be ready for motherhood, then a

negative utility would be produced for the student and her child.

Since there are many aspects involved in this situation, it is best for Ms. Black to refer the

student to the guidance counsellor, family doctor, and sexual health centre, thereby providing a

variety of resources to the student. Yes - These resources should include information pertinent to

the options the student is considering in this situation. The student should use the information she

is given and independently make her own decision. As the student is the individual who is most

impacted, she should have the opportunity to independently make her decision and determine

what is best for her in the situation she finds herself in.

ATA Code of Professional Conduct


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According to the Alberta Teachers’ Association Code of Professional Conduct (2018),

“any member of The Alberta Teachers’ Association who is alleged to have violated the standards

of the profession, including the provisions of the Code, may be subject to a charge of

unprofessional conduct under the bylaws of the Association”. By following the code of

professional conduct, and all three ethical viewpoints (Deontological, Virtue, and Utilitarian),

Ms. Black should provide the student with information and resources for her to make her own

informed decision of either having an abortion or continuing with the pregnancy. Therefore, this

leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of the student without any influence from the teacher’s

personal values. This upholds the duty of the teacher to act in a professional manner.
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References

Calgary Pro Life Association (2018). Respect for life. Retrieved from

https://www.calgaryprolife.com

Donlevy, J. Kent, and Keith D. Walker. “Working Through Ethics in Education and Leadership.”

2010, doi:10.1007/978-94-6091-376-1. Retrieved from www.d2l.ucalgary.ca

Donlevy, James. (Powerpoint 12, October 23, 2018). Virtue Ethics. Retrieved from

www.d2l.ucalgary.ca

The Alberta Teachers' Association. (2018). Code of professional conduct. Retrieved from

https://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Teachers-as-

Professionals/IM-4E Code of Professional Conduct.pdf