Guy Doud, and other great teachers have said, “I teach students, not subjects.” When teachers come to the point in their teaching career that they realize that it is student development rather than information distribution that will contribute most to producing a productive society, it will transform their career.
To go a step further, when teachers come to the conclusion mentioned above, they will realize that a productive society must have a positive moral standard. It is at that point that we will see a major change in teacher planning, and programs. The question is, how can we get to that point, and begin producing a productive and moral society?
Teachers, administrators, counselors, support staff, and even campus security all play a role in this teaching. It takes everyone on staff to be successful in this kind of teaching. It all starts from the very moment any student sees any one of these people. Students are watching. They are paying attention. They are seeking to find out how they should live. When they see productive actions happening within the staff and programming, they get a first hand measure of education in life. They do notice both the good and the bad. They pay attention to the right and wrong. They are watching interactions and behaviors because that is where they find a roadmap into their own behavior and interactions.
They are watching how each staff member treats the others, and how they treat the students. They are developing opinions and their own thoughts about what is right and wrong. If what they see is inconsistent, they will likely get the wrong message, and the standard in their lives will be lowered without them even knowing it.
The beginning of their education is what they see outside of the classroom. Then they find themselves in personal encounters with these school employees. When hello greetings are made, when a smile is presented, or even a handshake is offered, the student is learning about relationships and interactions. From the doorway of the classroom to the place where they sit everyday, they are learning. Before a single lesson is presented, these students have observed the examples we offer them.
Finally, the lesson begins, and once again they focus. They may not focus on the lesson, they may have questions as to how this lesson applies to them and their lives. They want to know that there is a connection there. In their minds there is no real point if they cannot somehow see an application of the lesson to them personally, or as a group.
So, here we are, asking how we can achieve a productive and moral society in the educational process. Looking back, over our collective shoulders, at all of the learning the students do from the beginning of the day and beyond, we can make the following clear observation.
We teach by Example: Teachers, and every staff member in the school should be aware that they are teaching through their own actions. Attitudes, emotions, enthusiasm, and yes, our very moral ideas show through. Students are seeking examples of how to live, and our behavior should cause them to reach higher to achieve society’s norms. It is, after all, society’s accepted norms that they see in the adults around them. At least that is what they perceived to be the norms. We must present to them the higher good.
Further review of the way students learn tells us that we are being observed closely enough that the students will see if we are productive citizens in our school, community, city, and beyond. If we are involved at all in the way our society is developing, they will notice. If they see us as their acceptable example, they will likely attempt to follow that example. Small things like, do you vote, do you use profanity, are you honest and consistent, and do you care for your students, are all things they are observing and making judgments on. We are teaching far more, before there is a lesson presented, than we realize.
Now, finally, it is time for the lesson. How is it relevant to any part of these students’ lives? What life lessons are found in Social Studies, Science, Math, Algebra, English, Government, and all of the other studies they are required to participate in? If we can respond to this question with a productive lesson plan relating to the modern lives of our students, we will begin to effectively contribute to a productive society.
The secret is not in performing from the moment we walk into the school. The secret is in being a productive and moral part of the current society, and living that out in front of the students. Tell them what you do in connection to the community. Be productive in the improvement of the school. Conduct yourself in a way that actually proclaims a high moral standard. Don’t write a student up for profanity, and then use profanity yourself. Don’t tell students they must work hard to succeed, and then slack off in your duties. That will not work.
George Washington said, ” Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
“Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness . . . it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” and “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons”