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Reverence and Listening in Teaching and Leading


by A.G. Rud & Jim Garrison — 2010

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.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 11, 2010, p. 2777-2792
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15792, Date Accessed: 5/29/2017 1:50:47 AM

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About the Author
  • A.G. Rud
    Purdue University
    E-mail Author
    A. G. RUD is head of the department of educational studies at Purdue University. His research interests include moral education and the philosophy of education. He is completing a book on Albert Schweitzer’s legacy for education.
  • Jim Garrison
    Virginia Tech
    E-mail Author
    JIM GARRISON is professor of philosophy of education at Virginia Tech. His research interests include the philosophy of education and Dewey studies. His many works include Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and Desire in the Art of Teaching (Teachers College Press).
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