The Ethics of Teaching and Scientific Research

By Sidney Hook; Paul Kurtz et al. | Go to book overview

The Ethics of
the Art of Teaching

Lee Nisbet
Executive Editor, The Humanist

Teaching is an art form. The educator is an artist and, as artist, aims at creating an experience of enduring meaning. Varieties of techniques are developed to generate this extraordinary experience. Success is measured in the degree that students and educator have this experience.

Sharing in, or participating in the development and enhancement of knowledge is one of the richest of aesthetic moments. The rare teacher who understands and creates the conditions for such moments becomes a seminal image in student memories. Students who participate in a magic moment of learning become and remain a source of delight and pride for the artist — they become, with reverence, his or her students. But, if education does have an aesthetic dimension, what is it and what is its connection with the ethical constituents of teaching and learning?

The answer is found when learning is conceived of as a shared experience given form by a most special aim or end. The point at which the tensions of struggling individual selves, the distinctions of rank and function flower into a unity of shared meanings that enhance the experience of teacher and student constitutes the end, the target, the bull's eye of the academic process. An understanding of what shared meanings enhance our lives indicates how they are to be shared, that is, what the ethics of teaching are.

Teacher and learner strive to know how the social, biological, and physical processes that constitute existence can be unified in ways that

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