Education For Integrity
Education is possible, but not if we lack integrity.
Isn’t it obvious that we need integrity in education? Don’t we need integrity everywhere?
Being against a lack of integrity seems as fatuous as the position of the pastor my family knew who summed up a sermon as being “about sin.” When asked to summarize his views on sin, the pastor said he was “against it.”
Jesus was right: we cannot serve God and money. A result of this truth is that we cannot educate and serve money. Students are not “units” to be manipulated to increase our profits. Education is a ministry; teaching is a calling of the Spirit. Because education deals with men and not mere material things, we cannot use our students. We can only serve them. We do not have integrity when we burden our students with debt for second-rate goods. We do not have integrity when we underpay teachers or focus on the “extras” instead of the students. Nevertheless, having integrity isn’t just avoiding a lack of integrity.
What is integrity in education?
Education must be for people and not for programs. A school exists as a community of alumni, students, parents, and faculty. The reality of a school is grounded in the service given to each human in the school. When a program becomes more important than the people, the school more than the students, the policies more than the professors, then integrity is gone.
Education must be honest, open, and transparent. Like any relationship, education cannot flourish in compartments or with lies. Why?
The student must know the professor, the administration, and the policies. Trust is needed, because the dialectic is so revealing. If a student cannot trust the school, then education will not be possible. Ignorance breeds mistrust. The entire community should know all information, data, plans and policies that can be known legally and morally by the entire community.
Look to Jesus and His disciples: a band of brothers where all that could be revealed was revealed. Only Judas kept secrets.
Education should create equals and not dependents. One reason debt is so pernicious in education is that it makes slaves of the student. Instead of graduating as a “bachelor,” “master,” or “doctor,” titles of free men and equals, modern school graduates get the title with crushing debt.
We cannot create equals by being “gurus.” Our classes should aim to lift the student past where we have gone and we should go with the student when we can. I have never taught a class where I have not learned. After thirty years of teaching, many of my own students have surpassed me.
Integrity in education requires this as a sacred duty. I must give what I have to make students greater than I can be or at least as great as they can be.
God help us. Integrity is the practice of virtue, using wisdom, which leads to joy.
I cannot wait.