Background/Context: The reconsideration of reverence was proposed by Paul Woodruffï's 2001 book, Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue. In examining reverence, we draw on moral philosophy, particularly the revival of virtue ethics, and acknowledge Woodruff's cross-cultural studies of reverence, particularly in ancient Greece and Confucian China. We propose the revival of reverence and reverential listening in teaching and leading in schools.
Purpose/Focus of Study: We take Woodruff's philosophical and historical analysis of reverence and extend it to education, particularly for teachers and school leaders. We delineate the traits of reverential listening for teachers and describe the importance of ritual, ceremony, and shared deliberation for school leaders. Our purpose is to show what reverential listening is and how it can be part of best practices in schools.
Research Design: The research design is a philosophical study of reverence and listening in the context of education. We analyze each term and describe its traits as we form a description of reverential listening in education. This analysis is supported by examples taken from our own experiences as teachers and from well-known theorists of reverence, teaching practices, and school leadership.
Conclusions/Recommendations: We conclude that small acts of reverent kindness, like the acts of reverent listening accomplished by teachers and leaders in schools, can be transformative. As Albert Schweitzer noted, many of us do this modest though important work well every day. Reverent listening is certainly not a panacea for the concerns and problems of our schools, but it is part of a simple act of paying regard and attention to others that is too often ignored in today's schools.