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Using learner-centered education to prepare teachers for ethical leadership.


Why would one go to The Citadel, a Military College, to prepare to become a teacher? The proposition of this article is that The Citadel, because of its unique focus on educating the "whole" person, creates exemplary teachers who are ethical, moral leaders in the classroom. This article examines: the necessity for preparing ethical leaders for today's classroom; the critical role of the teacher educator in the development of ethics, how the School of Education at The Citadel provides the foundation for preparing ethical leaders, and how The Citadel prepares the "whole" person.

The rich history of The Citadel promotes the development of ethics, leadership, and strong character. To understand the principles and priorities that guide the teacher preparation program, one must examine the historical and moral contexts of the institution. In his address to the South Carolina Legislature in 1842 John P. Richardson, the first President, said:

"... educated in the service of the State, with the ennobling consciousness of having paid for their education by their services; going abroad under the first feeling of a proud and manly interdependence to occupy their high places in society; imbued with a State of patriotism, as nurslings of her institutions; combining the enterprise and decision of a military character with the acquirements of their scholastic opportunities; dispensing knowledge and intelligence through all the vocations of life which they are destined to fill; and perhaps, most usefully and appropriately, diffusing them as instructors of succeeding generations." (Thomas, 1893, p. 29)

These words echoed over 160 years ago are timely today. The founding mission of The Citadel has always been to prepare ethical leaders for the future.


"We live in the best of times--the worst of times." (Dickens, 1859) Charles Dickens could have used these words to describe life in this millennium. In many ways those of us in teacher education know these are the best of times. The knowledge base of best practices in teacher preparation is prolific. Advances in cognitive psychology have enabled educators to understand more about the brain and how students learn. Because of higher standards, the profession is attracting more qualified students to teacher education programs. What happens to these bright, well-prepared novice teachers? It is the worst of times in many ways.

A report in Education Week states that one-half of teachers leave the profession in the first five years due to a feeling of helplessness. (Ed Week, 2000. Jan p. 16)What can teacher educators do to address this dilemma? Because schools are often a reflection of the problems in society the challenge is greater than ever. Our world is faced with unbelievable challenges in this decade, including an on-going war on terrorism and war in the Middle East. Because of the multitude of corporate scandals, we are in a time when many are skeptical of the entire concept of leadership. There seems to be in the world a shift from ethical leadership to a leadership of power, control, dominance and attainment of measurable goals and objectives. The question of what is ethical is open to constant debate.

Educators would agree that students need a firm grasp on what is right and wrong. Much of the literature supports the assertion that the moral fiber of children as well as adults is unraveling. Two-thirds of Americans think that society is less honest and moral than it used to be. (Putnam 2000) Last year, a poll of 12,000 high school students by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit organization found that 74% admitted cheating on a test in the previous year. (Josephson 2002, January)

As teacher educators, it is imperative that we operate by our own moral compass. A number of authors have argued that ethical concerns should be central in considering approaches to teaching and schooling. (Weissbourd, 2003, Goodlad, Soder, and Sirotnik, 1990; Noddings, 1984, Tom, 1984)

Educators need to constantly invite discussions on the moral dimension of teaching. Beyer (1997) regarded teaching as a "field of reflective moral action" and urged teacher educators to provide "support for articulating alternative visions and practices that respect students' integrity as moral beings and their abilities as social agents." (P.248)

Martusewicz (2001, p.20) describes a global perception of ethical behaviors for teachers. "Ethics must be all teachers' willingness to constantly ask what our work means in relation to a whole range of social, political, and cultural forces, and our willingness to shift our behaviors, our beliefs, and our identities as we come to understand the implication of what we do as political, transformative work." The future of our country depends on our ability to prepare ethical and moral leaders for the future. Teacher educators must address this critical issue.


Having experienced childhood in the 50's and adolescence in the 60's my perceptual lens on what is "ethical" may be different from my students. As human beings our families, teachers, and cohort group shape us. My father was the local mail carrier and we lived on a tight budget. How fortunate that I received a small debating scholarship to Tennessee Technological University to help with college costs. It seems like only yesterday that I came home from college for the weekend to visit my family. On Sunday, when I returned to school, my parents always insisted that I telephone them for one brief minute when I arrived at the University so they would know I had traveled safely. As I was packing the car with my father, I remember saying, "Dad, my friends have a way to let their families know they have arrived back to school safely without having to waste money on a telephone call." I excitedly told them that I could call collect and ask to speak to myself--Judy Brown--and all he had to do was refuse the call. I remember the incredulous look on my father's face and his words to this day, "Judy, that would be cheating the telephone company. That would be unethical."

When we discuss moral dilemmas in Educational Psychology class, I always share this story with my students. Many of them seem perplexed. It seems so trivial that my father would consider this simple incident telephone "fraud." What is ethical and what is unethical behavior in 2003? This seems to be the question. How can teacher educators promote moral development of pre-service teachers? The concern for the teaching of ethics is not new in teacher education. The National Educational Association (NEA, 1975), established a formal ethical code to provide a foundation for ethical judgments. However, based on the few studies that have investigated moral reasoning in pre-service teacher education students, many teacher education programs have not yet incorporated the moral aspects of teaching into their curricula (Cummings, Dyas, Maddux, Kochman, 2001).

Invitational Education

Invitational Education presents a paradigm that sees teaching as a force for positive social change. This theory of practice offers teacher educators a foundation for preparing students for ethical, moral leadership in the classroom. This model shifts from emphasizing control and dominance to one that focuses on connectedness, cooperation, and communication. (Purkey and Siegel, 2003, p. 1) Invitational Education is a powerful process of communicating caring and appropriate messages intended to summon forth human potential (Purkey and Novak 1996, Purkey and Strahan 1995). Invitational Education is not an isolated series of behaviors or skills. It is an internal holistic process founded on the four principles of respect, trust, optimism, and intentionality.

Nothing is more important in Invitational Education that respect for people--the belief that our students, associates, and we are able, valuable and responsible, and should be treated accordingly. In a study of teacher educators, data suggest that those who teach teachers are reluctant to identify themselves as teacher educators (Ducharme 1996). This news is alarming. Those who have the primary influence on pre-service teachers, teacher educators, often have a negative perception of their role at the university. This attitude must change if we are to be role models for our students. We must have a positive view of ourselves and the powerful role we play as teacher educators. Central to respect is caring. Teachers model caring by appreciating the rich complexity and uniqueness of each person. What we believe about our students has a profound impact on how our students perceive themselves. According to Nel Noddings (Noddings, Nel (1984), "How good I can be is partly a function of how you--the other--receive and respond to me. Whatever virtue I exercise is completed, fulfilled by you." (Noddings, Nel, 1984, p.6)

Trust is critical to Invitational Teaching because it recognizes the interdependence of human beings. Where there is trust there is likely to be risk-taking, and where there is risk-taking, there is likely to be growth. Invitational professors create a safe classroom where students feel secure. Optimism is the belief that people possess untapped potential in all areas of human endeavor. It embraces the philosophy of one's empowerment. Optimistic college professors believe they have a powerful impact on the development of pre-service teachers. Intentionality has been defined as "the structure, which gives meaning to experience" (May, 1969, p. 223). Intentionality is central to Invitational Education because it implies a choice and a desire to be respectful, trustworthy, and optimistic (Purkey and Siegel, 2003, p. 20). According to Palmer, "Teachers possess the power to create conditions that can help students learn a great deal or keep them from learning much at all. Teaching is the intentional act of creating those conditions, and good teaching requires that we understand the inner sources of both the intent and the act." (Palmer, 1998) Intentional teacher educators are models of ethical leadership. They intentionally plan experiences for pre-service students that encourage reflection and questioning. They affirm the importance of academic integrity. They embrace the highest in professional standards. They respect and have high expectations for all students. They model the behaviors they want their students to emulate.

The Citadel School of Education

The philosophy of the School of Education at The Citadel is based on five fundamental propositions. These propositions serve to orient the mission of the school, guide the value system of the faculty, shape the curricula, and provide faculty a sense of purpose and meaning in teaching, scholarship, and professional service. These propositions are:

* The faculty is committed to the education of all individuals to the fullest extent possible. With the implementation of appropriate assessment and teaching strategies, all students, though having unique learning styles and experiences, are capable of learning.

* It is the instructor's responsibility, with the aide of the appropriate resources and support, to establish a "mutually" respectful environment where effective learning occurs for all students.

* Education is a systematic effort to facilitate the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary for the student to function in a diverse society.

* The faculty of the School of Education is committed to the highest professional standards and to a situation in which these standards are modeled to students in all teaching, research, and service endeavors.

* The faculty is committed to an open interchange of ideas wherein the perspectives of all are valued.

Five of the seven goal statements of the School of Education relate directly to the development of ethical behavior and leadership. These include:

* To prepare teachers who uphold the highest professional and ethical standards.

* To prepare teachers who will serve as leaders in education.

* To prepare teachers who will function successfully in a rapidly changing and diverse society.

* To prepare teachers who are committed to life-long personal and professional development.

* To prepare teachers who will model the highest professional standards through teaching research, and service.

*Taken from The 2001-2002 Citadel Undergraduate Catalog pages 204, 205

All courses in the School of Education address the critical issues of ethics, morality and leadership in teaching. Courses are designed in a sequential format. Students are introduced to the concepts of ethics, morality and leadership in early courses and re-introduced in succeeding courses. Using the constructivist approach, (Henson, 2001, 2004) students construct knowledge through an interaction between what they think they know as compared to new ideas and experiences. The culminating professional internship allows the student the opportunity to model the highest moral and ethical practices.

Examples of Course Activities Include:

* Examining case studies to identify levels of moral reasoning.

* Reflecting inquiry on reasons for becoming a teacher.

* Analyzing video tapes on professional behavior.

* Observing teachers and developing journals on professional leadership.

* Analyzing case studies to identify "bias" in the classroom.

* Interviewing teachers to determine how culture affects learning.

* Questioning school administrators on leadership styles.

* Developing culturally responsive teaching strategies

* Assessing students' individual, personal communication styles and learning styles.

* Developing a long-range plan on ethical leadership in their chosen field of education.

* Using role playing to solve school problems faced by adolescents.

* Developing multi-media presentations on ethics and leadership.

* Reflecting on field experiences with cohort groups.

These inquiry-based, active learning course activities help pre-service teachers become reflective practitioners. The continual emphasis on field-based experiences, allows students to make the connection between their philosophies of education and classroom practices.

Educational Leaders Club

The Citadel Educational Leaders Club is an active organization designed to promote professional development and leadership skills of cadets with an interest in education. The club has been active on The Citadel campus for three years and is a student chapter of ASCD (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development). The 50 plus club members are involved in a variety of professional activities designed to develop leadership skills. Students are involved in tutoring in public schools for at-risk students, mentoring freshmen, assisting with The Citadel's Education Appreciation Day, and attending and presenting at local, state, and national professional conferences.

The "Whole Person"--The Preparation of Cadets as ethical leaders

In order to prepare ethical leaders The Citadel emphasizes the concept of the "whole person"--the mind, body, and spirit.

Academics at The Citadel are designed to prepare students to think critically and solve problems. Cadets are expected to work hard in the classroom. The academic philosophy is simple--strive for excellence. The Citadel gives Cadets every chance to succeed academically, including academic orientation programs, computer support services, a writing center, math and language tutoring, and a study skills program. Classes are small and professors are ready and willing to help Cadets.

In order to function optimally as a teacher, keeping physically fit is essential. Cadets are required to participate in Physical Training (PT) as an integral part of the college experience. The Citadel is an "essential" military college, which means that everyone in the Corps is involved in ROTC for four years. All branches of service--Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have extensive programs which encompass:

* Responsibility/Accountability

* Physical Training

* Ethical Leadership

Men and women are involved in varsity and intramural athletic programs. Club sports and Field Days encourage the importance of being physically fit.

The most cherished principle of the Cadet's life is honor. All Cadets abide by The Citadel Honor Code: "A cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do." The Honor Code is the moral backbone of the Corps of Cadets (CoC) and has remained steadfast for over one hundred and fifty years. The several on-campus organizations represent various faiths.

Leadership training within The Corps of Cadets is multi-faceted and whatever a cadet's major; each graduates with a "duel degree" in leadership. * Examples of leadership and ethical experience within the Corps include:

* The cadet leadership structure extends from the Regimental Commander through battalion and company to the most junior assistant squad leader (Corporal). Cadet Officers and NCOs are responsible for maintaining discipline, for instructing those placed under their control for exercising proper leadership at all times.

* The Cadet Guard Force (a distinct separate leadership opportunity) is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in each of the 4 barracks. Every two or three days another cadet company rotates as the campus-wide Guard Company, with each company having the opportunity to pull this duty two or three times a semester. The planning for the manning and the execution of this duty is a challenging leadership exercise for the company commander and his/her CoC. Further, every member of the Corps of Cadets will have an opportunity to experience this leadership experience many times during his/her cadet career. An Officer of the Day is the direct representative of the Regimental Commander, while an Officer of the Guard and his subordinates represent each of the Battalion Commanders. The mission of the guard is to provide barracks security, maintain communications, carry on routine administration, enforce regulations, report violations, and carry out all orders of duly constituted authority. The Guard Force offers an opportunity daily for cadet privates to move into leadership positions. In event the cadet cannot be in the CoC, the Guard Force provides a unique leadership development opportunity.

* The Cadet 24-Hour Schedule shows the intense leadership environment and high stress nature of cadet life. This schedule reflects that most of a cadet's activities and learning experiences, whether as a subordinate or a leader, take place in the barracks and throughout campus. It is in the barracks that accountability formations are conducted and lessons are taught on how to wear the uniform, shine shoes and brass, arrange the room and make the bed. It is here that the cadet first learns about formations and drill with his/her rifle. Frequent inspections are conducted to ensure that standards are met.

* All cadet commanders, sergeant majors, first sergeants, and regimental staff officers attend the 20-hour, Leadership Seminar at the beginning of the school year. This seminar is designed to provide a high level, small group, pre-cadre leadership training session for cadet leaders and key staff members responsible for the training of the 4th Class Cadets and the operation of the Corps of Cadets. This seminar is almost entirely training in ethics, theory, and practical leadership.

* Cadre training--Each school year selected cadets in the cadet CoC are brought back to The Citadel at least a week prior to the arrival of the new 4th class cadets and put through a "Train the Trainer" Leadership Program. This is an intense period designed not only to teach cadre members how to instruct specific tasks, but also how to be leaders.

* The Citadel Leadership Training is formed on a building block approach. Following the Basic Military Training of the 4th class cadets, the college systematically provides leadership training to cadets as they become eligible for increased responsibility and rank.


Preparing ethical leaders for the classroom is a challenge for educators. The need to rise to the challenge has never been greater. It can be the best of times if educators realize that it takes the "whole" village to produce an ethical leader.

The teacher educator is the walking, talking role model of ethical leadership. Invitational Education offers a paradigm for teacher preparation that works for creating ethical leaders for tomorrow. The Citadel has embraced a highly successful university-wide approach to preparing students to be ethical leaders in all walks of life.

* These Examples were taken from a Citadel memorandum from Col. George Powers, Office of the Commandant to Dr. Earl Walker, Dean of Business Administration, entitled, "'Leadership Training in the South Carolina Corps of Cadets," dated January 7, 2003.


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Editorial. Baccalaureate and beyond. Education Week (2000, January) Editorial Projects in Education vol 19 number 1B page 16, 17

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Purkey, W.W. & Novak, J. (1996). Inviting school success: A self-concept approach to. Teaching, learning, and democratic practice, 3rd Ed.. New York: Wadsworth.

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Associate Professor

School of Education

The Citadel Military College of South Carolina
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Title Annotation:The Citadel School of Education
Author:Lehr, Judy Brown
Geographic Code:1U5SC
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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