I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness:
Gas chambers built by learned engineers.
Children poisoned by educated physicians.
Infants killed by trained nurses.
Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.
So, I am suspicious of education.
My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmans. Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.
(Tubbs, Philosophy of the Teacher, Blackwell, 2005)
Is there any noticeable, to say nothing of any proper, correlation between what a man knows and what he is, that is, his character as a human being? … May a man not be a brilliant physicist and at the same time be mean and envious, or vain and conceited, or a false friend, or a Jew-baiter? I remember from student days in Heidelberg, just at the outset of the Nazi regime, hearing students talk of a distinguished professor of physics at the University who used to open his lectures with the threatening question: “Is there a Jew anywhere in the room?”
(Veatch, A Rational Man, Indiana University Press, 1966, pp. 21-2)
Perhaps when we think about teachers, or about becoming a teacher, we underestimate just how important the responsibility is. Perhaps we forget that education can be used as a means for evil as well as for good. It is important that we have teachers who are not just subject specialists or generalists, but who have also thought about the wider society that we operate in; teachers who can see the bigger picture; teachers who defend the human against the inhuman; teachers who can stand up for education when it is threatened by those who would misuse it, or reduce it to being less than it is; teachers who understand that education – teaching and learning – does have its own integrity.