Knowing and Loving: The Moral Craft of Teaching

Education should give children the ability and desire to seek truth. It should develop an appreciation for the oneness of humanity and the need for unity in diversity and should free students from the prejudices and fanaticism that hamper development. Eduation should train students in and be dedicated to morality and service.

Knowing and loving are the two basic qualities needed in this endeavor and can be realized developed through action. The teacher’s responsibility to maximize knowing and loving capacities. Educators must develop their own and their students’ knowing and loving capacities.

Tom (1984) characterizes teaching as a moral craft in which the role of the teacher is to create a just and caring environment, and Goodlad (1990) and his associates (1990) perceive education as a moral endeavor. If teachers are to be maximizers of their students’ knowing and loving capacities, the teachers themselves must be maximizers of their own knowing and loving capacities and must have achieved a certain level of knowledge, loving and commitment before they can adequately carry out their responsibilities and meet their moral obligations as educators.

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has developed guidelines for basic elementary education program based upon a belief that teacher candidates should be able to influence and improve the education of elementary school students. They state that elementary school teachers have multiple responsibilities, such as student’s general socialization, adjustment to the school environment, and academic instruction.

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), in answering the questions of what teachers should know and be able to do, has pointed to number of areas dealing with moral education (1987). Most of their propositions, items, and standards deal mainly with teacher’s knowledge and skills, focusing primarily on the cognitive domain. Their five propositions: 1) teachers are committed to students and their learning; 2) teacher know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to their students; 3) teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning; 4) teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience; and 5) teachers are members of learning communities; are seeking to set professional standards for elementary and secondary school teaching.

Persons who receive board certification are expected to possess a standard of commitment and competence in the profession of teaching. The Board acknowledges that the propositions and the enumeration of skills conceal the complexities and dilemmas of the teaching profession. They recognize that teaching requires judgement, improvisation, and human qualities, along with a professional commitment toward excellence.

NBPTS speaks to various elements related to moral education such as addressing the individual needs of the students based upon their different backgrounds, abilities, interests, and circumstances. Not only do they speak about students’ cognitive capacity in respect to learning, but they address the need to foster students’ self-esteem, motivation, moral, civic responsibility, and respect for individual differences. Board certified teachers are to be able to help students develop critical and analytical capacities, deal with their preconceptions and solve their own problems.

They can ensure a disciplined learning environment, set norms for social interaction, motivate students, and help students to achieve their goals. Board certified teachers are to be models of education, exemplifying the virtues they seek to inspire in their students. These virtues include curiosity, tolerance, honest, fairness, respect for diversity and appreciation of cultural differences.


Goodlad, J. (1990). Teachers for the nation’s schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Goodlad, J., Soder, R., and Sirotnik, K. (ed.). (1990) The moral dimensions of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. (1987). Toward high and rigorous standards for the teaching profession. Washington, D.C.: NBPTS

National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (September, 1989).Guidelines forbasic elementary education programs. Washington, D.C.: NCATE.

Tom, A. (1984). Teaching as a moral craft. New York: Longman.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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2 Responses to Knowing and Loving: The Moral Craft of Teaching

  1. Thanks a lot dear Rodney for sharing all this inspireing and encourageing thoughts and practical ideas ! Life sometimes is not easy for all of us and blogs and books like yours are a glimpse of hope at dark times. We are not alone……wishing you and all friends around you – as well as all friends reading this few lines – a happy, healthy and good day! Greetings from the heart of Bulgaria (RoseValley) Marion

  2. Interesting read! Looking forward to reviewing more of your site!

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