A Teacher’s OathMay 30, 2012
This is my contribution to the second Purpos/ed 500 words campaign.
I swear to teach to the best of my ability. I swear to do everything I can to develop my students’ intellects; to teach them some of the best of that which has been thought and known. I want my students to partake in the full fruits of their civilisation and will not willingly leave anybody ignorant or convinced of a falsehood.
I promise never to waste my students’ time with activities that serve no educational purpose. I promise never to seek to entertain rather than to educate. I will choose my teaching methods on the basis of how they will aid learning. I will be blind to educational fashions, uninfluenced by incoherent ideologies and sceptical of unproven theories. I will strive to improve my knowledge and my teaching. I will make decisions in the interests of my students and their learning, not on the basis of what they want, what I believe they should want or what I would enjoy. I will not seek comfort rather than challenge, consensus rather than truth, or socialisation rather than learning. I will be unashamed to teach.
I will also be unashamed to be a teacher. In my lessons I will not be a friend, priest or substitute parent to my students. I will not be a motivational speaker, entertainer or agony aunt. I will seek to be a teacher that you would choose to be taught by only if you wanted to learn. I will not seek personal validation, praise or gifts from my students. I will not sacrifice their interests to the pursuit of my career, a need for attention or for personal amusement. I will consider myself to be there for the benefit of my students, not the other way around.
I will carry out my professional duties, but will never let managers obstruct learning where this can be avoided. The learning of my students will always be a priority over approval from managers or inspectors. I will seek to maintain my autonomy and respect the autonomy of my colleagues. I will seek advice from those who teach well and avoid advice from those who don’t. I will make decisions in my students’ interests even when those with power, including the power of patronage, would disagree with me.
I will maintain order in my classroom so that my students can learn safely and without obstruction. I will treat them with consideration and encourage them to treat each other the same way. I will not hesitate to challenge any threat to learning. I will defend my authority and that of my colleagues. I will not hesitate to express support for the value of learning and the virtues of the intellect. I will never write off a student, nor seek to inhibit ambition. I will never pretend the mediocre is excellent, or that the unacceptable is acceptable.
I promise that should I find myself unable to keep to this oath, then I will leave the teaching profession.