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The Teacher’s Oath


(N.B. doctor derives from Latin, teacher, from docēre to teach )

An adaptation of the 5th century BCE Hippocratic Oath
assumed to have been written by Hippocrates, father of Western Medicine.

Adapted by Robert Sandberg
August 31, 2005

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, my call to the responsibilities, obligations, and duties of being a teacher:

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

I will apply, for the benefit of my students, any indicated educational strategies or techiques, avoiding the two extremes of teaching facts in isolation and treating opinions as if they are facts.

I will remember that teaching is an art as well as a science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding may be more effective than the threat of poor grades or promises of academic glory.

I will not be ashamed to say “I don’t know,” nor will I fail to consult with my colleagues when I believe their skills and knowledge might effectively complement my own.

I will respect the privacy of my students, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of love, hope, aspiration, despair, and temporary failure. If it is given me to save a student from giving up, failing, or falling short, all thanks. But I also must realize that it is within my power to fail and lose effective contact with a student in the fray of day to day realities. May the number of my failures be minimal.

I face this awesome responsibility with humbleness and awareness of my own limitations.

I will remember my students are not unfeeling, walking, talking memory machines or people with no life outside of the classroom. I will remind myself as necessary that they are sons, brothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who are valued, if not loved, by their family, friends, and community. Accordingly, I will design lessons that reflect the wider world from which my students come and to which they return.

I will confront ignorance and naivete whenever and wherever I find them, so that their opposites — knowledge and wisdom — may supplant prejudice, superstition, and misunderstanding.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, no matter how much I achieve or don’t achieve, with obligations to all my fellow human beings.

If I do not violate this oath and promise, may I continue to enjoy life, learning, and success. May I be respected while I live and remembered with affection when I am gone. Until then, may I long continue to experience the joys of teaching.