Part of our duty in our quest to secure our moral high ground, our quest to see every child as a whole learner, is to help outsiders see school as more than a structure for surface level content learning. On its face, “surface level learning alone is inadequate in preparing students for an unknown future.” While some may argue that content is for school and character is for home, this is not the reality we live in. If we understand school as a place where children go to prepare for their future, we must take into account that we are on a technological precipice that makes our future utterly unpredictable.
To prepare students for the unpredictable we must equip them with skills that transcend content knowledge. We must equip them with the skills to question and advocate and empathize and build relationships. They must be able to tap into their creativity and be familiar with the determination it takes to work through productive struggle. These are not easy to teach. But as Gustafson points out, “We should be operating with our feet firmly planted on the moral foundation of teaching instead of leaning toward the things that are easiest to measure. The moral foundation of teaching is our high ground, and we need to stand firm on it.”
When think about our own moral high ground and ethical obligations to our students, Dr. Gustafson suggests writing them down as a reminder of what we want to stand firm on. My own code of ethics is posted on my blog because of this. Reminders of the work we know we must do are helpful ways to make sure that you are following through with purpose.