Teaching is and will always require a great ethical and professional behaviour. This is why it is a prerequisite to feel it down inside your inner life that that’s for sure a calling because we’re talking about working with kinds of people whom you not only meet under business conditions but to play a role of parenting – forming a healthy fruitful relationship with them. Sexual misconduct is defined as a very broad term encompassing any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation, and this alone is water and fuel in the education realm. It is well understood that some people cannot control themselves with regards to their sexual feelings/desires and that is why if you relate with this you should figure out that’s not your path. The following comment by the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union following that of the secretary general Magwena Maluleke “It shames us as teachers that some within our profession do not see our learners as their children but as potential sexual partners. Teachers who engage in inappropriate relations with learners do not belong to our profession. These heartless and senseless individuals steal the future of our learners by compromising the learning and teaching environment” (SADTU, 2018). The two philosophical perspectives existentialism and critical theory help to establish a common ground for everyone in discovering their own meaning of life (the life of being a teacher) and the use of systems in our world (the education system).
Addressing the issue; there are a quite number of factors contributing to this human rights violation that is widespread and well known. Among others, one of the crucial contributing factor is the inadequacy of structures and processes of ensuring educator’s accountability. The reluctance in reporting or taking action against educators who sexually abuse learners by other educators. Because of this, the issue is guaranteed the continuum of this inappropriate behaviour. This phenomenon is in the execution of the people in ‘power’ and in operating the ‘system’ of education. Speaking of power and the system, referring to the critical theory that it helps to realistically assess power, identify those who have power and those who do not, identifying weaknesses in existing power relations and define own personal power and weaknesses. “Critical theorists tend to be philosophers who have been ‘hurt’ by the system, or have seen other people ‘hurt’ by the system. And in the education system many have been hurt too all just because of those who are in power.
One can argue this by applying the theory of existentialism that requires each and every one of us to discover for ourselves the meaning of life – that they find it meaningful if they discover that their sexual feelings/desires are natural and can be for anyone-anytime. But it is also important to remember that existentialism fails that it may lead to despair. This implies that even if we have to find the meaning of life for ourselves, our findings might be wrong because we are practising these findings under the operation of systems which need that you must realistically assess your power and if for any reason, is bigger than the other party (the learner), then you’re in the wrong system. All the educators who have indulged themselves in sexual misconduct have discovered a wrong meaning for their lives in the wrong system. Or they have a right meaning of life but still in the wrong system.
The Sadtu’s Secretary General Magwena Maluleke was quoted saying: “We are also angered that we are not seeing a decline in this kind of conduct from our own colleagues that are supposed to be caring for our children, because teaching is nothing but caring for our children.” (SABC News, 2018). This alone proves that the act of sexual misconduct is not permitted in the education sector. The secretary talked about caring, and that’s the foundation of this whole concept of teaching. Having great care as nature to yourself in introspecting the meaning of your own life as existentialism asks, the ethical and professional behaviour will also come natural. And to be part of the education ‘system’ unfortunately, as critical theory claims that power structures do not just drive our economic and social life, they actually influence the way we think. Of which, however, it comes easy to think about the things that actually connect with your meaning of life. As a teacher it is much easier to figure out your true meaning of the life of being a teacher/educator and to understand, and not questioning the system, that’s how the system you’re bound at operates and what it allows and doesn’t. And most importantly, recognising that these methods of inquiry in philosophy can be used together in living to what life means to you and simultaneously find a relation to the system you’re part of. As a result you will easily adhere to the rules and regulations of education sector specifically being a teacher.
The good news is The South African Council for Educators sets out that a teacher may be removed from the SACE register of teachers if the code of ethics is breached. And it clearly states that any form of sexual abuse, improper physical contact, sexual harassment and any consensual sexual relationship with a learner is a breach of the code of ethics. The South African Schools Act, 1996 requires a code of conduct for learners to be drawn up by the School Governing Body to regulate behaviour and relationships in schools. South Africa is also bound by their international law obligations and has ratified a number of these laws conventions that inform the state’s duty to keep learners safe at schools. Nevertheless, The Educator’s Act (The Employment of Educators Act, 1998) is a law which was developed to regulate the relationship between the department of education and the teacher’s they employ. The Act sets out that there are disciplinary procedures to follow when a teacher in public schools commits an offence. Victims are advised to ask someone for help/if one has been raped or sexually assaulted: keep evidence; go to hospital; go to the police/court/ get a protection order/report to DBE/move schools and/or get counselling. Again, in discovering your meaning of life it should be in alignment with the educational system.
Answering the two methods of inquiry in philosophy: what is the meaning of life (existentialism) and the one that radically questions the existing of systems (critical theory) comes together as they are inter-dependant. In discovering the meaning of life will automatically answer the existence of a system you are bound at and vice versa. Once the teacher has realised that’s what life means to him/her will, as a result, act accordingly to the rules and regulations of the system of teaching (education). Thus the issues of misconduct will never be experienced. It is wise to realise that also the stakeholders of the education sector do not agree with this misbehaviour from teachers.
The poor performance in South African schools can be justified by postmodernism because it takes any form of human condition… i.e. if a learner failed or did not do well at school and this philosophical method of inquiry states that it resist the pressure, in this case, a learner stay relaxed regardless of the academic performance. Phenomenology on the other hand, encourages us to ask ‘who am I?’ who is this “I” that constantly interacts with the world around me. Say for example a learner is confronted with this question, he/she either take his/her education seriously and that’s if their answer requires that they must be educated. What am I saying? The two methods of inquiry will help to establish a ‘choice’ for people to either choose education, dedicate themselves or not.
The following factors contributing to poor performance are both the teacher’s and the learners. Poor teaching/learning strategies which result in an unproductive teaching and learning. Poor content knowledge and understanding which is the most essential component in teaching and learning. Lack of motivation and interest which are the necessity in education and the unrecognised role of parents. Other causes include laziness, improper timetable and inadequate study time, financial constraints and doubt among others. According to postmodernism the above mentioned helps us to re-assess the quality of our lives. And in phenomenology it helps to examine our lives closely. And if both parties assess themselves and find that they are affected by these factors, then a shift backwards to the philosophical method of inquiry must be taken. This will help enable them to discover if they’re doing what’s right for them or not.
Physical and psychological effects – illiteracy, unemployment and the state of being poor has a demoralising effect on people. Unfairly treatment and discrimination against poor individuals occur often. Economic effects – illiteracy which result in unemployment and poverty has a major effect on the economy since taxes are used to finance those living under poverty line. Social effects – low standard of living and the quality of life is what social effects lead to. Increment in crime rate, incidences of civil unrest and domestic violence. According to Burger (2012: 209) Environmental effects – illiteracy often leads to poverty and population density impacts negatively on natural resources. In this regard, phenomenology may fail that it can be morally demanding thus the exclusion of these effects and postmodernism fails that it leads to despair and these effects do lead in despair.
Application of the problem-solving technique is imperative in this issue of poor performance in SA schools. I presented the causes, effects and now the solution… One of the aspects of human condition examined by postmodernism is the power of large, modern institution (e.g. schools, hospitals, large business organisations) over the individual. This, however, should bring people to the realisation of the reality that going to school (which holds power) will empower you as well. Phenomenology claims that human beings and the world interacts with each other the whole time, the one influencing the other. It is therefore summed up in the following statement: ‘I am in the world and the world is in me.’ By this we should understand that the existence of schooling is in part of the world and the world that is in you. Making the right choice of attending school as it is part of you (according to phenomenology) will be much easier if the seven secrets to accelerate underperformance are applied: healthy relationship between the teacher and the learner; understanding the real problem which prevents the learner from doing well; shifting of mind sets and expectations to bring bigger picture to students themselves; building cognitive capacity relentlessly; teaching grittiness for the long haul; working on social and emotional skills and coaching for life (the teacher).