Study Session 3 – The Teacher as an Agent of Transformation
“Teacher professionalism is at a threshold. Moral purpose and change agentry are implicit in what good teaching and effective change are about, but as yet they are society’s (and teaching’s) great untapped resources for radical and continuous improvement.”
— Michael G.Fullon (1993)
Why Teachers Must Become Change Agents
In: Educational Leadership. Vol.50, No.6
“Teachers are the pathfinders of the nation. They prepare the royal road to a bright future. The skill and efficiency of the people, their reliability and sense of duty depend on the community of teachers. Their virtue is reflected in their pupils. Their faith inspires the young. Whether people waste their lives and ruin the lives of others, the answer lies in the hands of the teachers..”
— Sathya Sai Baba (1926 – 2011)
Those teachers who believe that Human Values Education can serve as both a catalyst and model for the much-needed reformation of mandatory education all recognise that the students in our care will strive for excellence in both character and academia when they are inspired to do so by our example – when the depth of our equanimity resonates with the unshakeable peace already residing within them; when the sweetness of our compassion reinforces and encourages the emergence of ever-sweeter acts of caring by them; and when our vibrant curiosity and passion for learning fosters a renewal of self-confidence in their intellectual adventuring.
Multi-faith and multicultural in its approach, Human Values Education aims not to shape the children into a predetermined mould, into a way of thinking and behaviour that is not their own, but rather to bring forth from within each child their own innate human goodness, love and wisdom that arrived with them when they were born. For those who might protest that some children appear to be deprived of such fine qualities, one can only reply that fire cannot be seen or felt in the unburnt piece of wood. The teacher’s role is to become a blazing log that, by its very proximity, will set the students alight to manifest the Peaceful Mind and Open Heart that is their birthright.
The aim of this Study Session is to help you develop a primary level of understanding for each component of the acronym, TEACHER. As the foundation stones of Human Values Education, each of the seven letters in TEACHER denotes one important aspect of the guiding philosophy and principles of that system of character education being promoted by the Australian Academy for Human Excellence: Human Values Education.
The acronym TEACHER is set out below:
T is Transformation, not information
E is Exemplar
A is Awareness of Oneness
C is Culture
H is Head, Heart and Hand (in unity)
E is Environment
R is Role of Religion
The Exercise – Step 1
Referring to Handbook for Teachers in Human Values Education, page 199 – 212, read and reflect upon the brief explanations for each one of the above seven components of the acronym, TEACHER.
The Exercise – Step 2
Using dot points or short sentences, extract from the explanations given for each component of the acronym TEACHER, a few words or insights that can prompt you when you wish to reflect further on that component at a later date, and record these in your Journal. By way of example, beginning with T is Transformation, not Information, someone might write the following:
- An ongoing self-transformation in the teacher is required if the children are to make contact with their own inner goodness, love and wisdom.
- If students gain only information without any thought of transformation, how can a society evolve?
The Exercise – Step 3
Now that you have recorded in your Journal a number of brief statements about each one of the seven components of the acronym TEACHER, consider each one in turn and select from all of them the statement or dot point that resonates most strongly with you.
The Exercise – Step 4
Do something special with this statement, such as:
- Create an attractive poster and laminate it.
- Create a bumper sticker
- Create a small sticker for the back of postal envelopes
- At the end of every email and letter that you send out, add the statement under your name, as a way of sharing your conviction about this one aspect of character education.