• I promise not to fall in love, to become engaged, or secretly married.

  • I promise not to encourage or tolerate the least familiarity on the part of any of my boy pupils.

  • I promise to remember that I owe a duty to the townspeople who are paying my wages, that I owe respect to the school board and the superintendent that hired me, and that I shall consider myself at all times the willing servant of the school board and the townspeople (p. 43).

While this contract is quite dated, the notion that virtue is important is still widely discussed, and entire books are devoted to the place of ethics and moral behavior in contemporary teaching (van Manen, 1991; Noddings, 1984; Tom, 1980).

Teachers Should Transmit Cultural and Educational Values

Another definition of teacher quality emphasizes a broader range of personality and character traits—such as curiosity, enthusiasm, and compassion. Interest in personality traits was especially widespread in the decades immediately following World War II, partly in response to popular psychoanalytical theories and partly in response to concerns that America needed to ensure that it would not be susceptible to the totalitarian influences that had captivated other countries (Adorno et al., 1950; McGee, 1955). Each personality trait had its own rationale, and each was the subject of a variety of efforts to develop measures that could be used in screening candidates for teaching. For example, one theory held that a certain kind of personality, the authoritarian personality, was especially susceptible to fascist influences. The authoritarian personality was defined as someone who respected social hierarchy and felt unusually strong admiration and loyalty to those in positions of authority (Adorno et al., 1950). Associated with this broader social concern was a concern about the extent to which teachers might be fostering authoritarian values in school and a belief that American society would benefit if teachers’ personalities were the antithesis of the authoritarian personality. Thus, there was a great deal of interest in finding a way to measure authoritarian values and to use those measures to screen teaching candidates.

It is worth noting that researchers working during this period generally assumed that gains in student achievement were not good indicators of teacher quality because they represented far too narrow a range of outcomes. It was assumed that, in addition to fostering student learning, teachers served as moral role models and that they instilled a variety of social values in their students. Consequently, when researchers tried to evaluate their measures of teachers’ personal qualities, they usually looked for evidence of a relationship to observed practices or to principals’ ratings of teachers, rather than evidence of a relationship to student achievement (Getzels and Jackson, 1963).



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