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[FALL23] The Flourishing of the Teacher

Ended Dec 5, 2023

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Full course description


Course Description:

In “The Good Life of Teaching”, Chris Higgins (2011) argues that “teacherly self-cultivation is a necessary condition for education” (p. 274). While teaching is a vocation rich with potential for teachers’ self-cultivation, the culture of schools and the conditions of teachers’ work can inhibit this practice. Too often teachers are only acknowledged for their instrumental value: as bodies in classrooms or bodies in the yard, they fill teaching slots, they cover classes, they are allocated to predetermined school or district priorities.

This PLC is dedicated to dialogue about why one should and how one can strive towards, what Higgins calls “self-ful” (rather than selfish or selfless) teaching. Together we explore the profoundly ethical questions at the core of this practice: “Why teach? Why is this practice worth putting at the centre of my life? What is the life of the teacher and how does this relate to my sense of what makes life worth living? What are the goods internal to the practice of teaching and how does this inform my sense of what it is most worthwhile to experience, excellent to achieve, and admirable to become? How does tending to the growth of others advance my own growth?” (Higgins 2011, 149). We conduct this collaborative exploration by engaging with short rich texts that facilitate the examination of our own values and struggles, what we take to be essential in teaching, and how we are holistically implicated in this work.

By joining this virtual learning community, we invite you to:

  • have dedicated weekly time to reflect on the practice of teaching
  • be exposed to different perspectives on teaching self-fully
  • explore and question assumptions about teaching
  • come away with ideas for intentionally cultivating a teacherly-self

This PLC will meet on Mondays from 4:30 - 5:45 pm EST from September 25 - November 20, 2023: Sept 25; Oct 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Nov 6, 13, 20.

Additional offerings from the Lynch School Professional & Continuing Education Office can be found on our website.

Topics & Readings

Together we will explore topics like flourishing and self-fulness, emotional labor, de- and re-moralization, and the nature of and relationships in teaching. We will reach selections from some of the texts below, among others. All readings will be provided in PDF form, and no purchases are necessary:

  • Higgins, Chris. 2011. The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Santoro, Doris A. 2018. Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press.
  • Kaplan, E. 2019. Teaching Your Heart Out: Emotional Labor and the Need for Systemic Change. Edutopia, July 19.
  • Bracher, Mark. 2006. Radical Pedagogy: Identity, Generativity, and Social Transformation. Palgrave.
  • Friesen, Norm. (Ed.) 2022. Tact and the Pedagogical Relation: Introductory Readings. Peter Lang. 

Course Facilitators


Samantha Deane, Ph.D. is a Philosopher of Education, the Director of the Formative Leadership Education project at Boston College, and an instructor of Formative Education at Boston College.