Recently, two articles gleaned from my professional learning network confirmed what I wholeheartedly feel is the moral imperative of the 21st century educator (like we don’t have a enough to worry about already): modelling the moral imperative. 

The focus of what teachers are responsible for (i.e. preparing their students for matriculation for the next grade) to what teacher must be morally obligated to address (some might laugh with derision): the moral imperative is something with which I have struggled over the past several years as a non-enrolling educator (i.e. teacher-librarian).

Reflections on professional practice by educators and thinkers like Joshua Block and Maurice Elias really resonate and support my evolving view what we should be doing in our classrooms and attempting to model as teachers, learner, and leader: more compassion in the classroom.

Heeding Block’s call for more compassion (and for me, empathy) in the classroom will do wonders for everyone. In our haste to ‘cover curriculum’ and ‘assess like heck’ we are ignoring the most glaring of all factors: we teach learners, not content. We often lose sight of the fact that curriculum is merely the vehicle to help develop citizens of the future. I take this seriously. In fact, I feel that putting curriculum coverage over everything else does a disservice to educators and our public education system.

Maurice Elias goes one deeper and argues that compassion alone isn’t enough. He cites David Brooks’ article in the New York Times that empathy (and, therefore perhaps compassion?) alone isn’t enough. Our students need to feel positive about themselves, first and foremost. And naturally any of action always follows an individual’s moral code. With these components developing compassion and empathy in our learners may be an uphill battle. But isn’t it worth the effort?

[A great read is Elias’ Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. (PS It partly explains the real reason why we have and need education.)]

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