Blog 7: Teaching Morals?

In this week’s module we discussed the role that virtues and values play in the classroom. As teachers, it is our role not only to lead young people to knowledge but to also teach them how to be a citizen of the greater society. In our discussion, a lot of great ideas and concepts were discussed. My point of view is that we as teachers need to be examples of moral character for our students. However, one of my colleagues brought up the fact that he does not feel comfortable in that role and would rather see those expectations stay inside family walls. I see both sides of this point of view. In the article, “Can Virtue Be Taught?”, Kirk proposes, “It would be vain for us to pretend that schools and colleges somehow could make amends for all the neglect of character resulting from the inadequacies of the American family” (p. 1). It is true that teachers cannot replace the lessons that children learn on a daily basis from their families. However, I think that teachers can try to partner with families to best support the students. For example, I know that I can better utilize parent-teacher conferences compared to past experiences. In my first year of teaching, I used this time to usually discuss behavioral issues in hopes that parents would then work with me in these problems. However, this could have also been a time to get to know parents and see what they are teaching their child. I could encourage them in their efforts to raise their child because parenting is hard and I’m sure it is nice to hear some positive feedback. Even though parents are hopefully teaching their children to be people of character, it is still something that we teach in the classroom whether we mean to or not. Since students are taking note of our actions, I think that it is an opportunity to be an example of moral character and maybe even make a lesson of it.

I enjoyed the following quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel that Prof Williams shared with us, “It is not better textbooks we most need to improve education but text-people. A teacher’s life is the book that students read with more care than anything on paper, and will far more significantly shape their lives.” Teachers are constantly watched not only by students, but by the surrounding community. We are leaders because of the profession that we chose and I believe that is an important authority that should not be wasted.