Ethical values are critical to the success of any organization. Values are instilled during a person’s formative childhood year. Once in adulthood, values are difficult, if not impossible to change. The greatest difference between successful and unsuccessful teachers is not in what they know or do; it is in how they think and how they interact with others. Thinking patterns and social behaviors are a direct result of the values that one holds dear.
The reality of education in America is that the profession is not revered as it once was. The cynicism of our culture permeates every aspect of our lives. The airline industry’s most prevailing press exposure is inevitably the airplane crash that kills hundreds; no one is there to document the thousands of flights that begin and end without incident. So goes the business of education. Many believe non-ethical values, such as greed or the desire for fame, are at such an all time high that they will be the downfall of our generation. A teacher must have a strong set of values to be able to maintain a positive outlook and continue to meet the needs of their pupils in such a cynical and self-serving world.
A teacher is in a unique position. They have the ability to influence the ethical values and behaviors of tomorrow’s leaders. Teachers can inspire students to want more for themselves than they ever dreamed possible. They can instill trustworthiness, respect, and justice. A teacher can complement excellent parenting, or help a child to overcome a miserable childhood. Teachers who operate from vision outperform their resources. Teachers can make a difference. Stephen Covey identified four needs of people: to live, to learn, to love, and to leave a legacy. The legacy for every individual, for our country as a whole, is realized in our children.
What is more crucial than teaching our students the pitfalls and the cost of non-ethical behavior. Teaching is about the mind and how we shape the minds of our children, but it is also about stirring hearts. That makes the work significant. Part of the responsibility of teachers is to summon the next generation to duty. After all, individuals owe society a citizenry with the very best ability to be leaders in the future.
Reference: The organizational behavior: Behavior reader by Kolb, Osland, Turner, and Rubin (2001)