Thursday 19 May 2016

2.2: Teachers in the News

Character in the Professions: Teaching
Discussion Board Unit 2.2
Teachers in the News

Please use these discussion boards to interact with your fellow learners. The discussion boards provide a unique opportunity for learners to debate ideas and thoughts generated by the ‘Character in the Professions: Teaching’ course and reflect on the application of theory discussed in your professional lives.

Are teachers required to be virtuous all of the time?
Can one be a virtuous teacher if one is not a virtuous person?
Can one be a virtuous person if one is not a virtuous teacher?

Unit 2.2 investigates ‘Teachers in the News’. Activity 4 asks you to refer back to the examples presented in Activity 1. Select one of the 10 examples where the teacher(s) has behaved virtuously. Which qualities of character has the teacher shown?

Do you think that all teachers should routinely behave in these ways?

Is it possible to be a virtuous teacher and not be a virtuous person? If so, why? If not, why not?

Activity 5 focuses on cases 1-6 from Activity 1. Having reviewed the cases as if they were journalist pieces commenting on an absence of virtue in each scenario, consider the following questions:

  1. What impact may each report have on the notion of virtue in the teaching profession among members of the general public?
  2. Do cases 8-10 provide a counterbalance to the examples of vice in the profession, or are they simply examples of "good people" rather than "good teachers"?
Please post your comments below and join the discussion.


  1. In case study number 8, I think that the teacher has behaved virtuously. By allowing the students to be assessed throughout their daily lessons, without continuous examinations and tests, provides them with fairer opportunities and more freedom. It is also really good that the lessons are designed to include collaboration between teachers and students and that they are encouraged to pursue what sparks their interest. I would argue that the virtuous qualities this teacher demonstrates is: Fairness, Judgement, Social Intelligence, Justice, Kindness and Teamwork.

  2. I do think that teachers should aim to use these virtuous qualities throughout their careers, in order to inspire children and set good examples to them. However, I would argue it is also not possible to be a virtuous teacher without being a naturally virtuous person outside of the teaching profession. Part of your character, despite keeping a professional distance in school, is on display at all times in the classroom. The way you communicate, manage the space around you and set activities, all show elements of your character. If you were a person with a bad character then all of these things would be affected in the classroom and you would not make a good teacher. This is what is apparent in the cases 1-7 of teachers who display bad characters. They were simply pretending to have good characters in school and letting their guards down and displaying these bad qualities by accident, or in some cases, deliberately. The vices in the cases 1-7 are difficult to get past, not only do they abuse their positions of authority over pupils, but they show qualities that are hard to forgive in any human being. They show: selfishness, disregard, spite, pride, corruption and secrecy. The cases 8-10 are nice examples of successful teachers, however, I would argue that they aren't simply 'good teachers', they are good people and this is what makes them have a successful career.

  3. In Case 10, I believe the teacher has displayed real virtue. She has acted with originality and ingenuity to give the children the same opportunities that she had, having noticed the benefits that physical education has had for her. To overcome the obstacles of not having a gym or an auditorium demonstrated how adaptive she is. She didn't accept the status quo - which is that physical education is something that ‘gets put to the side’ - she spoke up for what's right and made sure that something happened about it. This required persistence and integrity and the benefits for the children are clear. She is encouraging a love of learning, taking a bigger picture view by proving to the children that learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. This has further advantages in that it also warms the children up to behave better in the classroom.

    I believe that these are key qualities which a teacher should aim to demonstrate at all times. Having the resourcefulness to think outside the box to give the best for the children is one of the key qualities of being a successful teacher. Furthermore, as teachers we are models for the children in our class and displaying this kind of ingenuity and resilience in overcoming obstacles will act as a good model for children in overcoming their own difficulties. Having said that, whilst it is of course the aim to behave virtuously at all times, it is important to remember that we are still human beings. Lapses in virtue are sometimes unavoidable, ( as long as they are not illegal) but dealing with this is the most important thing. Again, it will show children that no one is perfect and how we face our mistakes is key.

  4. I think that to be a truly great teacher it is so important to have the qualities that case study 9 demonstrates. When I think back upon my own school experience and the teachers that taught me, the ones that I remember and the ones that shaped my education were the teachers who showed the qualities that this student describes: kindness, fairness, humility, respect, sensitivity and encouragement.

    I think that the teacher in this case study has demonstrated that they behave virtuously and use these qualities as a means to be the best possible teacher that they can be. They demonstrate having a deep regard for their students, showing both respect and humility. As well as this they treat children as equals and help the children develop through encouragement. The fact that this teacher has been able to encourage the child to believe in themselves is possibly one of the most important parts of being a teacher. Being a great teacher needs to be more than just about marking and planning but showing genuine care and kindness for the children.

    I think while it may be hard to act like this the whole time, the characteristics that the student describes are not out of the question or impossible traits but are simply about treating children with kindness and respect while fostering in children a deep sense of personal worth.

  5. In case study 10, the teacher portrayed numerous positive character traits. The teacher portrayed traits such as commitment to the children by creatively providing them with an opportunity to engage in physical education. The teacher portrayed true love of learning by improvising with the space they did have around the school even thought their gym had been used as the cafeteria. The teacher provided the children with the opportunity to engage in physical education, which allowed the children to have a great and energized start to the day having a positive impact on the rest of the day. This teacher showed real positive character traits that have been driven by intrinsic rewards, the teacher doing it out of the goodness of her heart.

    I feel all teachers should behave in this way, the level of commitment and passion for learning this teacher has portrayed is what all teachers should aspire to. A teacher’s job is to ensure that all children are able to reach their full potentials and it is the teacher’s duty to provide them and help them maximize their opportunities.

    Teacher may come across a number of barriers that may prevent them from acting virtuously like this teacher has in case study 10. However it’s a teacher’s passion for learning that will act as a drive to ensure that the teacher will try to overcome such barriers so the children are able to experience learning to their full potentials. Barriers can include lack of resources and experience the teacher may have that can impact on the choices that they make.

  6. Case 8: The teacher in this case has behaved virtuously. She had displayed many excellent character traits, such as creativity, selflessness and kindness, which the students have appreciated to the point where she is called the ‘world’s best teacher’. The lack of examinations means that the students are much more relaxed but are still motivated to work hard, and therefore achieve success.

    All teachers should act in a virtuous manner to the best of their ability at all times. Although this may be challenging as it may involve more hard work on the part of the teacher, it is in the best interests of the children they teach, as well as themselves and their character. Within the teaching profession, rules and pressures from various directions, such as Ofsted and senior management, may cause problems when trying to act in a virtuous manner, but as long as the teacher is doing all they can to act in a virtuous manner and instil good character within the children in their class, they are displaying good character.

  7. Activity 5
    Negative news usually has a bigger impact than positive news and so it is likely that the negative news articles about the teachers displaying a lack of virtue and good character will have had a bigger impact on the general public. These are rare examples of bad teachers displaying a complete lack of professionalism and adherence to the law, and will have likely tainted the general public’s view of all teachers, despite them being only a tiny proportion. They show poor character traits, including spite (Cases 5, 6, 7), cowardice (Case 1), dishonesty (Case 1), irascibility (Cases 5, 6, 7), insensibility (Cases 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), disregard (Cases 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and corruption (Cases 1, 2).

    Cases 8-10 show examples of excellent teachers with excellent characters. It is likely they have developed their character within their teaching profession but that they already had good characters before taking up the position, thus being both good people and good teachers.

  8. I think case number 3 has been virtuous in their own definition of the term. Whilst it is possible the resources and methods may not have been appropriate, encouraging students to engage in personal reflection of the societies in which live is a positive thing, whilst it may be uncomfortable.