Moral aspects of teaching have been giving hard time to those who tried to solve them for ages. In fact, there are several aspects to this problem. One group of them concerns the teacher himself and the choices he makes while teaching. Another group of issues deals with how to incorporate moral education into learning and whether we should incorporate it at all.
Have you ever been friends with a young high-school or university teacher? If you have, you must have heard a lot about his or her students and what kind of relationship they established. Should he be doing this? Should a teacher let his job and personal attitudes mix up? We all know that academic abilities and human qualities can be on the opposite sides of the scales, so one does not always accompany another. Of course, we are not talking about socially judged and punishable things like immorality, but what if a student is simply not nice? Egoistic or arrogant? Should a teacher be allowed to notice it and discuss it outside the classroom? How not to permit his attitude towards a certain student to interfere with estimation of his academic achievements?
As a teacher, you might witness different situations and types of interaction between students. Quite often you take someone’s side and cannot but support him. Is this a right thing to do? Should you interfere? Even if you see someone being mistreated?
Establishing the right sort of relationships with students is something learned over the years. There are a few teachers born with this knack, but in most cases newly graduates resort to two opposites. They either get too demanding and non-understanding for the fear of not being seen as a fully-fledged teacher, or vice versa – they grow fond of their students and establish friendships. In both cases, there are consequences to endure. In the first one, a teacher eliminates the crucial component of good nature. Education process proves to be much more efficient when students like the personality of their teacher, and being strongly disliked by your students will have bad impact on both sides.
In the other case, students tend to relax and assume that they will be forgiven, while a teacher loses his or her authority for them. Perceived more as a friend, a teacher is no longer a duly respectable institution. What is even more important, personal likes and dislikes might damage your judgment.
Another area of the moral issues in education deals with the eternal question: should a teacher be allowed to teach what is right and what is wrong? And if yes, how do we know that his or her personal beliefs are in line with general morality? Also, how far shall he or she go in these attempts? Here is a vivid example. A certain high school History teacher (female) told all the boys in classroom to face the rest of the class and apologize for centuries of rape endured by women. While the goal of advertising gender equality is respectable, shaming new generations for something (supposedly) done by their ancestors is way over the line. Otherwise, we would still be despisingthe Germans for holocaust.
Can you see how moral education can turn into paranoia and have damaging impacton the receiving part? This is why it causes probably the most heated discussions, and this is why the teacher’s role is far above being a mere source of information. Those taking up this difficult career should always remember that.