“Most of all, teachers shouldn't only be speakers of helpful words, but their actions should be consistent with them. The pupil's duty is to attend pro-actively to what is said, and to be on guard in case they accept something false without thinking.” -Musonius Rufus
Welcome to my deep dive into Stoicism and how it can apply to teachers and education.
Musonius Rufus was an ancient Stoic philosopher known for his teachings on ethics and the philosophy of education. He emphasized the importance of aligning one's words with one's actions and believed that teachers should not only speak helpful words but also embody those words through their behavior. His teachings emphasized the role of teachers in shaping the minds and character of their students.
Most teachers encourage their students to step outside their comfort zones because they know that's where the learning happens. Fast forward to a staff meeting where a new program or resource is introduced and watch the anxious body language unfold. Students are watching. When you find ways to model what it looks like to take on new challenges, students are more likely to do the same.
What’s something that scares you but you’ve been wanting to try for some time?
The second part of this quote is now more important than ever. Students need to learn to discern the truth in a world filled with falsehoods and deepfakes. They also need the stamina and attention span to listen. Curiosity, combined with lateral reading skills, is a powerful combination. Provide opportunities for students to debate and require vetted evidence as part of their argument. Finally, the icing on the cake, teach them to disagree while staying true to core values like compassion, respect, and integrity.
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