Changing the world

Changing the world

With the hope that they might stimulate your thinking - and even prompt a response - I am including some excerpts from the paper I presented in Boston this summer.  Thanks for reading on...    

From the classroom to the world: Preparing teachers to make a difference, the theme of this conference, describes what certainly is a very noble and worthwhile goal. It is a goal consistent with both Old and New Testament scripture which, in Micah 6:8 as an example gives broad instructions involving  justice, love, and humility, that when  lived by teachers can have a profound effect on the outcome of the teaching process beyond merely the knowledge gained by students. And consistent with Jesus' teaching in the New Testament it speaks of being salt and light; teachers, as human managers, who are invited to enter into the sphere of public influence can bring illumination in darkness and can bring flavouring to otherwise dull substance and preservation to things that are worth saving.  The purpose of this paper, consistent with the conference theme, is to contribute toward the noble goal by examining, and perhaps changing, the agents of change. 


Being professionally inviting

            John Dewey in the last millennium, suggested that,  "Everything the teacher does as well as the manner in which he does it incites the child to respond in some way or another and each response tends to set the child's attitude in some way or another" (1933. p. 59). More recently Guy LeFrancois (2000) in his widely used text for educational psychology sets a foundational tone by initiating the first chapter with a discussion entitled, "Teaching and your beliefs" (p. 5).  He suggests that beliefs are reflected in attitudes, prejudices, judgments and opinions (p. 5), and that they guide our thinking and our actions.  Thus in the diverse climate in which teachers teach, it is increasingly important that their beliefs be examined and that they lead to Christ-like invitational classrooms and experiences for all students. Prejudicial or inaccurate beliefs need to be "stamped out" to use a term popularized by Thorndike.  That is one of the reasons for the previous study (Pudlas, 2007) that examined the effect of providing new knowledge to replace the ignorance and fear held towards students with diverse learning needs.  The focus here, however, is more specific on the heart of the teacher and how teachers can learn to be more personally inviting.

Being an inviting educator

            Two assumptions of invitational education need to be addressed here.  First, is that inviting and disinviting messages primarily result from perceptions, and second, that these messages significantly affect students self-concepts, their attitudes toward school, the relationships they form at school and their school achievement (Purkey & Novack, 1996). Teachers who want to be a positive influence in the lives of their students  need to see those students as able, valuable and responsible.  Equally, if not more, important educators need to see themselves and education in positive and favourable ways.  Having a positive and realistic view of oneself is an important aspect of invitational education.  How can that be fostered?

Becoming personally inviting

            Given the foregoing, the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 should take on a new meaning:

14Christ's love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. 15He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore.

17Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

This paraphrase from The Message, gives a wonderful sense of hope and urgency to the familiar passage.  So in real-world practical terms, how can we as educators and educators of educators develop in ourselves and in the lives of our students that kind of transformed-life living?

Last updated Aug. 13th, 2008 at 12:49pm by Ken Pudlas