Manifesto for Teachers

Manifesto is defined as a “public declaration or statement of belief or position.” I can narrow that down to 4 essential things:

  1. Striving is a thing.
  2. We are more than just a brain.
  3. Respect the mystery of each evolving human life.
  4. People before things.

Striving to be a better human being is really all that we can do no matter your profession or place in society. Striving to understand and serve students with loving acceptance is the work of true teaching, and it is hard work! Devotion towards students and self-knowledge helps students achieve their full potential.

A human being is more than a brain. Academics is just the surface learning. Humans develop in other ways, there are other types of intelligence: emotional, physical, spiritual, expressive.  People deserve to develop all sides of themselves.   To ignore human emotional and physical needs solely in favor of academic learning is to cause long term suffering and depravity.  Like Hippocrates promised, first, “do no harm.”  Developing the mind is important, but not at the expense of the other fundamental building blocks of health, sanity and character. The youngest children are being deprived of the right to start with a foundation. The youngest are being forced to develop their intellect before other, more important pieces are in place.

A human being is the greatest mystery there is.   Every one of us is given the ultimate task to transform ourselves and discover the truth of who we are and why where are here.  Each of us must choose among life’s options.   It helps a lot if we can avoid getting stuck in a state of “being right” in our defining of things, this includes avoiding pigeon-holing or “pegging” someone.  Open minds learn and we are far more complex and nuanced than the many academic, scientific, or pseudo-scientific tools and definitions we will ever devise. Remember the acronym G.O.D. = Get Over Defining, and that includes narrowly defining ourselves or our students with labels.

Wisdom does not come from being right or naming things. Any cure for human suffering will come from willing, or doing. Thinking and feeling alone do not accomplish much by themselves, but they inform our deeds if we are conscious of them.

People before things.
Avoid using anything dogmatically. Our whole world is prone to dogmatism, fads, trends, popularity, and gimmickry. The field of education is excessively prone to it. Dogmatism creates all kinds of suffering. Let our highest concern always be for the quality of our relationships with students or anyone else in our lives. This devotion is above our philosophies and idealism, and it is certainly above educational trends, software and technology fads or instructional gimmicks. Devotion to people will steer us along the road to learning Truth with less injury to our fellows. If you mess up or get lost along the way, just re-orient and remind yourself that caring for students takes patience and love and it is hard work. Forgive yourself and try again, daily, hourly, and minute by minute.