What happens when teachers respect the inherent dignity of every human being.
By Rachel Padilla
Teachers are often asked about their philosophies. It may be their philosophy regarding grading or homework their thoughts on a new method or legislation. But very rarely does anyone inquire about a teacher’s philosophy of life. Yet, whether you believe in the inherent dignity of every human being affects your behavior as a teacher. Being pro-life changes how you see those around you, especially the young and vulnerable. Because of this, teachers’ professional lives benefit from having a pro-life worldview.
Holding a pro-life worldview means respecting the dignity of every human being. For teachers, upholding each person’s worth helps in doing well in their career. From this perspective, every person regardless of age, ability, or circumstance has inherent dignity. This includes children, even the most challenging.
Students are not always known for their respect of adults or each other. Teachers are models for their students, demonstrating what is and isn’t socially acceptable. In a room of 31 people, it is important that someone understands that everyone deserves respect. Those who teach young children carry a special responsibility to instruct them in basic behavioral norms and manners. Often, this boils down to teaching children to respect others. A teacher who understands a human being’s inherent dignity will, by word and deed, pass on this belief to their students.
A pro-life worldview also recognizes that being younger, less developed, or less able does not make a person less valuable. Sometimes children behave in ways that are frustrating simply because their mental development is not complete. They are still learning. Kindergartners throw things and spill juice. Middle-schoolers make inappropriate comments and defy authority. This is, in a real way, part of their development. While their behavior should be corrected, it should be corrected in such a way that acknowledges their dignity regardless of their lack of maturity. A pro-life teacher sees that their students’ developmental stage does not determine their worth.
Students are not the only ones who benefit from a teacher’s pro-life worldview. This perspective also means teachers acknowledge the dignity of parents and other adults in their students’ lives. Each person they encounter is unique and has inherent worth. When you see people this way, you realize their worth matters more than your own purposes. They are entitled to understand why you make the decisions you do for their children. They’re not just an email address or the voice on the end of a phone. Your students’ parents are human persons like you.
When a teacher respects the dignity of every human being, their classroom becomes a place where respect is not only taught but modeled. Children in and out of the womb are some of the most vulnerable and impressionable members of our society. They deserve the protection that comes from their dignity being acknowledged and respected. A teacher who isn’t pro-life won’t necessarily disrespect the dignity of their students but having this worldview certainly helps you see each person’s inherent value and treat them accordingly.
Rachel Padilla is a campus minister in Colorado.
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