Image of the Teacher

Image of the Teacher

Can we apply the same advocacy of children’s strength and rights to the teacher’s strength and rights?

Can we enable those who choose teaching find the great pleasure that comes from being a participant with their communities in the authorship of their own lives?

The school we are talking about is not the school you are familiar with in the past, but it is something that you can hope for. —Loris Malaguzzi, Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins

In the article linked above, Loris Malaguzzi reminds us to regard children as whole human beings with a powerful sense of agency who can be as unpredictable as we are ourselves. Malaguzzi reminds us that an aspirational image of the child can enable us to bring acceptance and flexibility to the fore. Our teaching will always contain uncertainty and doubt, and it takes wisdom and a great deal of knowledge on the part of the teachers to be able to work within this situation of uncertainty.

It’s necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. —Loris Malaguzzi

Why do we not look at the adults who work with children in the same open, respectful, and trusting way? An equal quest is to hold a powerful image of the educator, one that would call attention to the destructiveness of questionable external constraints upon teachers and the need for acceptance and flexibility in educational systems aligned with expectations of trust and assurance.

Let’s pause for a moment, pull back the bed sheets, and examine Your Image of the Teacher. We can simply change the word child to teacher and reflect upon how it sounds to use Malaguzzi’s sentences from that article.

Teachers “…need to know that we are their friends, that they can depend upon us for the things they desire, that we can support them in the things that they have, but also in the things that they dream about, that they desire.” —Loris Malaguzzi

The political rationalization for the necessity of constraints and controls in education implies that teachers are incapable, subservient employees mindlessly doing assigned tasks. Progress towards a new investment in the commons of education at all levels, requires us to assertively claim the image we hold of teachers parallels the image we hold for children.

It’s necessary that we believe that the” …teacher “is very intelligent, that the”  …teacher “is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. —Loris Malaguzzi

The transformation to a wholesome image of the educator disrupts the implication that educators are expendable people who do our bidding or lose meager support—in other words, coercion.

Teachers “…need to enjoy being in school, they need to love their school and the interactions that take place there. Their expectations of these interactions is critical.” —Loris Malaguzzi

We can disrupt every hint of subservience. We can ensure that everyone considers the image of teachers expects them to be thoughtful, inquisitive, people, whom we depend upon to lead us as well as the children, not only as the main actors but also the prompters, the set designers, and the applauding audience to benefit the world’s children.

“We need to produce situations in which”…teachers… “learn by themselves, in which”…teachers… “can take advantage of their own knowledge and resources autonomously, and in which we guarantee the intervention of the adult as little as possible.” —Loris Malaguzzi

We will no longer accept the language of training and technical assistance and no longer accept policies which add constraints to the life of the school. Our wholesome image of the teacher demands an investment in those who are dedicated to the life of our children and the strength of our communities.

“Both children and adults need to feel active and important — to be rewarded by their own efforts, their own intelligences, their own activity and energy.” —Loris Malaguzzi

Our wholesome image of the teacher, like that of the child, inspires trust. Our wholesome image expects them to choose what to do, to evolve toward shared ideals, and to choose their own journeys in concert with their communities.

“Those who have the image of the”…teacher… “as fragile, incomplete, weak, made of glass gain something from this belief only for themselves. We don’t need that as an image of” … teachers…” —Loris Malaguzzi

Teachers are not weak; they are leaders on our path. Let us work every day to demand all discourse contain an aspirational image of the teacher and proclaim that their rights and strengths must be recognized as essential to building a sustainable world of stewardship and hope.


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