character, moral and religious education

As a future English teacher, I will be guiding my students through various texts and works and together we will regularly be defining and redefining what it means to be human beings. How ironic it would be to study a novel and not discuss “character” development. Literature is the study of the human condition, the search for meaning and connection, and so the literature my high school students study will undoubtedly have direct correlations to character, morals, and religion. We will dive deeply into our texts to explore and discover who we are as people, how and what we construct to be true or right, as well as our purpose.

I understand and agree with Nel Noddings statement that as a teacher, I should not provide specific answer to these questions but rather facilitate deep thinking and reflection (Noddings, 2006, p.250). Certainly it is unconstitutional and an abuse of my power and role as a teacher “to proselytize” or “attempt to convert” or convince students of any particular religious views (Noddings, 2006, p.250). As foundational and formative as my faith is to the person that I am and the perspectives I have, I hope to model Christ to my students by investing in and respecting them, and affirming their worth by getting to know them as individuals and encouraging their potential.

In addition to modeling my morals and values which are rooted in the life and example of Jesus Christ, I do believe it that as a teacher, I have the opportunity and responsibility to promote citizenship which is nothing without morals such as equity, respect and honesty, or the sensitivity and competence to converse and interact with all people. Many argue that it is the job of parents, the place for such development is in the home not the school to teach and encourage such behavior but teachers who cannot engage these aspects of their students’ lives do not provide a holistic education. I do not wish to be a teacher who offers mere book knowledge and a grade at the top of essays.

Reference:

Nodding, N. (2006). Critical lessons: What our schools should teach.  New York, NY:  Cambridge University Press

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