Integrity: another excellent quality for a teacher to have.
“Sure,” you say. But what does integrity really mean?
According to a very interesting book by Barbara Killinger on this subject, “Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honor moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles .” *
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But wait – shouldn’t we ask ourselves what those values and principles are? Lots of fine, upstanding people consider themselves to have integrity and we cheer them on. But what about all the mass murderers, cult leaders and others who have done great harm to humanity – were they not holding themselves to their own moral and ethical principles? Were they not absolutely consistent?
Now we are talking about teaching here, not about being faithful to one’s spouse or murdering someone for religious or other idealistic reasons. But being true to our moral and ethical principles and standards can often do a lot of damage if we don’t carefully consider what they are.
Here, for example, is the substance of a post I once saw on a music teaching forum where a violin teacher who teaches beginners on up talks about his program and his integrity…
He had decided he wanted a program of excellence so his students and their parents would need to follow the whole program consistently without fail. They would have to practice and listen every day, and come to group lessons as well as additional lessons outside of their regularly scheduled lessons if this teacher retained it necessary. If they complied, he promised he’d move heaven and earth for them. If, however, the students fell short on any of these requirements, he’d mandate that they follow corrective measures to restore what he considered was lacking. Failing to do so would result in everyone involved trying to find a way to “celebrate” the student in question leaving the program as the student and her family weren’t meeting the teacher halfway while he was moving heaven and earth to help them. His felt it would be a compromise of his integrity to take the student’s money, and a waste of his own time and energy, to not deliver his product of excellence that he had decided was important to him.
Let’s look at this closely. When you read this, you might say, “My, he is certainly true to his principles and ethics!” Yes, and he even uses the word “integrity” absolutely correctly. He is true to his values and no one is going to divert him from his chosen path.
A person of integrity? Absolutely, according to the above definition.
A person who is expert in certain didactic methods? Undoubtedly.
A good teacher? In my opinion, no. Here’s why: Continue reading