The Morals of Teaching

Last class we discussed the qualities of a “Star Teacher” and the idea that teachers may need to adhere to a some sort of specific world view in order to be “Star” teachers.  And I think I was rather unclear with what I said.
In short: yes.  I definitely believe that all teachers should subscribe to some rather basic belief-sets, otherwise I would probably be willing to label you as “bad.”

Now, I think this could get very politicized very quickly — but I don’t think it needs to.  I don’t, necessarily, believe that you need to have a specific political affiliation to be a great teacher, but I do think you need to hold certain moral beliefs.  Churches do this all the time — they espouse moral standards without endorsing any political party (theoretically, at least; there have been plenty of endorsements to both candidates this election cycle, unfortunately).

Obviously there should be some sort of standard “moral standard” (as I’ll refer to this idea of a specifically endorsed worldview or value system that all teachers should have) – otherwise you’d believe that there should be no moral standards at all (which, in itself is an absolute moral standard — and self refuting).  That Star Article is a perfect example of what those standards should be; the article makes it clear that the “deep-seated beliefs” of teachers have a huge impact on students and their learning.  The “moral standards” (though they aren’t referred to as that) in the article are all great, depoliticized standards which we can, and should all adopt as future teachers.  Other researched-based mindsets or “moral standards” could easily be adopted too: like believing that intelligence is not fixed (Dweck), that motivation is key to classroom management (Pintrich & Schunk), and that perceptions of self-efficacy impact both teaching and learning (Tuckman & Monetti).  Further, we should, as teachers in the United States, incorporate a civic ethos into our classroom, which means we need to believe in the basic tenets of our society (meaning you can’t be a communist or fascist or blindly prejudicial or anything else that is completely at odd with the values of the good ole’ USA).

All in all, there are, indisputably, certain teacher mindsets or moral standards that better impact our students — and we should be trained in them.  Our school of education at CSU does everyone a disservice by not including any sort of professional ethics class.  There should be a larger dialogue about mindsets and morality in relation to our professional ethics among teachers in general.

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