10 Commandments of Teaching

For some reason I was thinking about the 10 Commandments some more yesterday while hanging out, working, and talking with a retired teacher-friend of mine.  While I didn’t verbalize this, I realized that, appropriately skewed, these would make a great road map for education as well.  At least I think they will.

  1. Educating students is your only true purpose in working in education.  Thou shalt not place any other goals in front of this one.
  2. Thou shalt not place pretty walls, bulletin boards, and dog and pony shows above educational goals.
  3. That shalt not insult, deride, or take the names of the students, parents or colleagues in vain.
  4. Take one day each week as a day of sabbath and show fidelity to the act of rejuvenation.
  5. Honor teachers and educational practices that were in place before you.  These may be the ones you need to help fully educate a child.  Do not assume age equals inflexibility or that keeping a course means fear of progress.
  6. Thou shalt not kill students‘ dreams, motivations, desires, or passions. Nor shall you kill your colleagues’ reputations and job prospects through gossip, envy, or anger.
  7. Thou not put anything before the educational goals for the students or make student goals secondary in education.
  8. Thou shalt not steal ideas, materials, manipulatives, desks, etc.  Thou shalt show integrity in all interactions with all people.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy fellow teacher.  Thou shalt show great integrity in being honest with colleagues about their actions.  Thou shalt give all colleagues the benefit of the doubt.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy colleagues‘ students, room arrangement, teaching assignment, prep time, materials, or relationships with others.  Thou shall work on improving one’s self and not bringing down others.

OK, it’s a bit funky, but you get the idea.  In order for education to be truly reformed (which we know nobody really wants), we have to start building the community among the adult stakeholders (and ALL adults who work at a school should be stakeholders).  Building consensus, having common goals, being respectful of other viewpoints, and being collaborative will do wonders in producing a school everyone can be proud of.

The Ten Commandments, in my mind, have always been the road map for creating a peaceful and harmonious community that works together for the common good.  Religious or not, theist or not, or even conservative or not, I think we can all agree that to truly make progress we have to agree to behave in a way that honors the community.

Now, this was off the cuff and not completely worked out before writing.  So… what would you add? 


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