Teachers are very important agents in the fabric of education. It is their profession and should also be their vocation. The task of these professionals is to accompany the students in the process of developing the natural abilities that have been deposited within them. They should also facilitate and promote the enrichment of each student’s potential through elements of learning which stimulate their natural curiosity.
Teachers should be adequately trained to carry out the function of accompanying students during the stage of school education and should be open and committed to continue training, mainly in the human aspect and also professionally.
It must be very clear, especially to parents and families, that teachers do not substitute the responsibility that corresponds to the parents. Parents are the main agents responsible for the task of educating their children, due to the sole fact of having put them into the world by their own free decision. Too frequently there are fathers and mothers who are not sufficiently aware of the responsibility involved in bringing children into the world. As soon as they can, they implicate teachers with a responsibility that belongs to them – and only to them. Instead, these educational professionals should be considered exceptionally valuable allies who are here to enhance and complement their own educational work.
Teachers must also be aware that their educational responsibility is not above that of the parents, nor should they replace the responsibility that corresponds to the parents.
The work of teachers can be exhausting if they do not feel adequately supported by educational institutions, as I explained in the previous article, and also if they do not have the trust and solidarity of parents and families.
What has been said so far is part of what we might call a “basic educational structure”. The three agents of this structure, parents and families, institutions, and teachers, have to walk in the same direction, work together, and support each other, each complementing the educational task through their area of responsibility, and helping and strengthening other areas.
Focusing more specifically on the task of teachers, as well as emphasizing once again that being a teacher is a vocation rather than a profession, I will try to specify some important aspects which allow them to exercise their vocation in a way that is constructive, effective and rewarding.
In the first place, teachers must be aware of their own shortcomings and needs as human beings. They must take responsibility for their weak points and take care of them in an adequate therapeutic environment. I want to insist on the need for teachers to have a continuous training that nurtures them as human beings and facilitates the progression in their own maturation process. After all, “nobody gives what they do not have”. A tree that has not been cultivated produces inadequate fruit, and a healthy tree produces good fruit. We must therefore pay attention and provide adequate resources to allow each teacher to be a good tree that produces good results. In other words, teachers must a reference point for their students’ lives. They must believe and practice what they try to reveal and promote in the students they accompany. If teachers attend to their personal needs and have the support and solidarity of the parents and institutions, they will carry out their educational task with passion and love. This will unveil the vital potential of the students and will stimulate their creativity and motivation for learning.
Teachers should not be limited and restricted by their role. They should not forget that we are all teachers and students at the same time and should consider and treat students with respect, as equals, since we are all depositaries of real treasures that we need to develop.
Obviously, teachers must also have ongoing professional development, enriching their professional background with new resources and learning techniques, but with the condition that this aspect is not a priority. A teacher who has provided their students with a very good reference for life and human relations will be more valued and remembered than a very learned teacher whose behaviour does not support what she or he tries to teach.
It is also very important to take care of the good relationship and cooperation between all the teachers who are part of the school staff. The management team should try to be at the service of the families and teachers, but they should also feel their support. The management team can only do its job well if it also receives the support of the relevant institutions. It is difficult for the management team to do well and enjoy their work if the institutions do not limit the bureaucratic tasks to the bare minimum. The same can be said for all teachers if they have to devote a lot of time to filling out paperwork, which is often of little or no use in the task of educating, which is their main purpose.
I want to add another very important detail that is rarely considered, and perhaps even less so in educational projects that aim to be more innovative.
This is taking into account and respecting the natural cycles of life. Life is cyclical, and it alternates between activity and rest. For example, the heart rate alternates between systole (activity) and diastole (rest); it also happens with breathing (exhalation-inspiration); also with the muscular system (effort-relaxation). In the annual cycle of the four seasons there is also the same alternation.There are two seasons of recollection and rest (autumn and winter) and two seasons of activity (spring and summer). In the 24-hour cycle, the same thing happens. Sunset and night are the resting phase, and sunrise and day are the activity phase. In schools it is especially important to take this rhythm of activity-rest into account, both during staff meetings and in the classroom. A structure that promotes excessive activity to the detriment of the resting phase is not healthy. A structure that does not take into account the resting phase will end up stressing the students and the teachers affecting their health.
I do not want to extend myself any further. I am aware that I am leaving many things out, but no matter how much I continue to write, I cannot say everything. If someone wants to ask questions, raise practical issues or make contributions, feel free to do so. I will be delighted both to receive contributions, which are course very valuable, and to respond to anyone who asks questions or issues related to education.
Ramon V. Albareda
Psychologist. Theologian. Sexologist
Founder of ESTEL, Centre for Personal Growth and School of Integral Studies
Next article: Education Part 6: Quotations by historical figures about education, cited in chronological order.
I intend to add another article dealing with the issue of sexuality in the educational process, which may be of interest to parents and families as well as to teachers, and perhaps another article dealing with the subject of religious beliefs and political ideologies in the educational process.