The Temperament and Qualification of the Teacher

Makiguchi was a great Japanese educationist. His major book Education for Creative Living was published in 1930. Here we are reproducing a small section from the book.  We believe that it reminds us of the meaning of the vocation of teaching. Society begins to degenerate if teachers lose their moral foundation. At a time when teaching is seen as just another job, it is important to reflect on Makiguchi’s deep concerns.

On the basis of more than thirty years spent in the field of education, I would be half-pressed to think of any single group of people who are more concerned with their own self-preservation and less concerned with service to others than teachers… I can only feel disheartened and ashamed when I observe how few in the teaching community would even think to engage themselves in discussions of how to best serve the public interest, when not a one misses the least opportunity to advance his or her own self-interest. All my experience has brought home to me the sad truth of Sakyamuni’s words during more than forty years of preaching: “ Persons of either vehicle who seek their own salvation without trying to save others will never attain Buddahood.”


It is only when educators take stock of themselves as their brother’s keepers –or rather our children’s keepers—that they become capable teachers.  Educators are in this regard applied moralists. They must always stand ready to act as judges of good and bad , and have the courage of their conviction to act accordingly. This is, of course, an awesome responsibility and not the sort of thing we want to entrust to just anyone. What I am saying is that the notion of a profession called teaching  presupposes that the teacher stand as an exemplary human being, a guidepost on the road of life… When a person does not measure up to these standards assumes a teaching role, it is nothing short of fraud…
Whatever else teachers and educators in general do , moral education is their best mission. Is this not the line that divides teachers from other value creators, such as artists and technologists? Thus the qualitative difference between educators and non-educators boils down to teacher’ direct involvement  with exclusively moral values in their value creation. If teachers and educators are to act as role models , then more than anything they are to be model individuals  in the creation of moral value. Whatever else teacher’s work entails , they must constantly be alert for actions and attitudes, however trivial they might seem, whose immorality or amorality threatens to break down the cohesive unity of their society.I see social problems as stemming from poor education, the wrong roles learned from bad models. Clearly, when our leaders openly demonstrate their lack of morals, there is something wrong with our society. It is as if we have handed the keys to the vault over to burglars. In education as well, we hardly ever encounter magnanimous and civic-minded teachers actively contributing to the life of society. Instead, the greater part of the teaching community involves itself in jealous bickering, spreading unfounded rumors without compunction. They lack the courage to confront each other in an open discussion of the facts, much less to offer criticism and point out errors.

 Source: Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Education for Creative Living ,Translated by Alfred Brinbaum



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