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That’s because of the myopic focus on raising standardized test scores. It feels like you’re trying to break down an open door—everyone recognizes that teaching is an inherently moral work, but it is increasingly harder to attend to it in the K-12 classroom because of the focus on raising test scores and an increasingly crowded teacher education curriculum.
Your data gathering on the moral work of teaching has focused on student teachers at Boise State University. One of the most striking commonalities was the way that our teacher candidates focused on their desires to be role models for their future students.
Were there any surprises and commonalities in survey responses when it came to the questions “can we teach children to be morally good? We found that many chose teaching because they want to be a role model because they believed that some children don’t have one at home. Given that conviction, we were also surprised that they don’t know much about modeling and the social learning theory that supports it.
Put another way, they gain access to what Doris Santoro calls the “moral rewards” of teaching—enabling them, as well as experienced teachers, to avoid the type of demoralization that too many teachers encounter. RO: We can prepare teachers for this work by helping them understand that moral values infuses their work; helping them to engage in their practice in ways that align with what we call good, virtuous, and caring.
If a teacher education program purports to prepare teacher candidates for the profession, and if it has a constructivist bent, then the moral work of teaching must be addressed in meaningful ways.
But whatever form that preparation takes, it should be purposeful, systematic, and thematically driven.
With many issues and challenges bombarding today’s education system, high-stakes testing among them, is the moral work of teaching getting overlooked?
Being a teacher is an inherently moral endeavor—but do enough educators truly understand the moral value of their work? Osguthorpe believes many do not, or at least not to the degree that is necessary.
Osguthorpe, dean of the College of Education at Boise State University, would like to see more teachers who understand the moral value of what they do and teacher education programs that are prepared to show them how.“I was amazed at how my day-to-day work went beyond just delivering content.
But we can say that the school does have an impact.
Having a teacher equipped to engage in that work is pretty important.