A Hippocratic Oath for the Teachers of the World

May December 25th, 2012 find you well and happy, whatever reason you find to celebrate it.

Being a teacher is an awesome privilege, and one that I don’t take for granted.

Here is exactly how important I regard my work:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those teachers in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of those who choose to learn, all measures required, avoiding those twin traps of teacher-centeredness and academic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to teaching as well as science and medicine, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the institution’s syllabus or the publisher’s coursebook.

I will not be ashamed to say ‘I don’t know,’ nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a learner’s development.

I will respect the privacy of my learners, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially I must tread with care in matters of trust. If it is given me to teach, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take away the joy of learning; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not teach a coursebook, a photocopied worksheet, nor even a prescribed curriculum, but a willing human being, whose eagerness to learn may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for those who wish to learn.

I will prevent bad teaching practice whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of teaching those who seek my help.

Adapted liberally from the updated Hippocratic Oath, written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today

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