The Registrar examines a child’s wisdom and the notion of heroism in teaching, and what it means to the students in our care.
By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photos: Matthew Plexman; the Fred Rogers Company
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” As the courageous young woman Malala Yousafzai spoke these words earlier this year in her address to the United Nations, I was both moved by their power and struck by their simplicity.
Education as a liberating force. Teachers as agents of change. Children as our future. These are powerful messages. In our own Ontario context, I firmly believe that teachers committed to students and their learning, dedicated to inspiring public confidence in the profession and exemplifying the ethics of care, trust, respect and integrity change our world every day.
As teachers, we are builders of a civil society by instilling in students the values that contribute to establishing and maintaining a strong, vibrant society. Trust, compassion, courage, integrity are the building blocks that parents forge at home and that teachers strengthen at school.
Words like “building,” “strengthen” and “vibrant” make me think of superheroes. Although teachers may not wear tights and capes, leap buildings in a single bound or make liars tell the truth with a lasso (do you remember these superheroes?), you are heroes and heroines. You proudly wear emblems of integrity, you walk with compassion and you radiate care.
This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with four of our Ontario colleagues to work with a group of Haitian principals whose image of teacher as hero was very evident.
During our five-day summer institute, stories emerged not only of the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in January 2010, but the role schools, principals and teachers play in Haiti in helping students who lack basic life necessities. As we wove leadership competencies and professional ethics into our presentation, the participants related these qualities to their context and to their realities.
It became clear during my time there that professional ethics are universal. They cross borders and cultures. Malala’s declaration of the agents of change: one child, one teacher, one book, one pen is equally universal.
Care. Respect. Trust. Integrity. For me, these — the ethical underpinnings of our roles as teaching professionals — are the tools that one teacher, one child apply in their quest to change our world.
One of my personal heroes is Fred Rogers. As a young child, I remember watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and enjoying the songs and seeing the puppet characters such as King Friday and Prince Tuesday. Now, as an adult, I know that Fred Rogers was much more than a children’s television show host. He was an innovator, a valiant supporter of public education and a tireless advocate for children. To witness his passion and power, check out our Facebook page and watch a YouTube video of Fred Rogers’s presentation to a Senate committee on public broadcasting and educational television. He speaks so eloquently and passionately of the potential of children and the promise of the future that the Senate chair said he had goosebumps listening. Who are your heroes? What impact did they have on you and how did they contribute to your decision to become an educator? I’d like to know and if you would like to share, please send your response to me care of email@example.com. Please write “Heroes” in the subject line.