Humanist Teacher Corps
Humanist Teacher Corps
Some members of the American Humanist Association may remember the National Teacher Corps, a federal program that ran from 1965 to 1981 that provided training to enable future teachers to more effectively teach in inner-city elementary schools. More recently, the idea of a teacher corps was reestablished as Teach for America, an AmeriCorps program.
The American Humanist Association believes that the time has arrived to establish the Humanist Teacher Corps. Recently we have supported the use of billboards and bus ads to send the message that one should “Be Good for Goodness Sake.” But humanism means much more than an advertising slogan; humanism is about moral and ethical values. That is the message we must convey to the public. But how do we do this?
An answer was suggested when the award-winning TV and movie writer and director Joss Whedon accepted the 2009 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism. He stated that, “Basically there really is only one answer [to supporting humanist morality], and it is education, education, education … the only way to break down systems truly without violence, and without chaos and without all the things that people think of non-believers as espousing is education. It is categorically the one thing that we must bring to our neighborhoods, our people, our families, our world, other countries… The enemy of humanism is not faith; the enemy of humanism is hate, is fear, is ignorance.”
It is in this spirit that the Kochhar Humanist Education Center is establishing the Humanist Teacher Corps. Our intent is to identify and mobilize a cadre of American Humanist Association members and other supporters of humanism to engage in action individually or in teams on one or more of the following activities:
- To develop curriculum resources on humanist issues
- To provide presentations at community forums to inform the public about humanist principles and values
- To serve as watchdogs and advocate for more humanistic curricula and textbooks in public schools and assess state standards for their historical accuracy
Members of each of these three groups will also be asked to write articles for American Humanist Association journals, including The Humanist, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism and other publications.
The Humanist Teacher Corps will be a primary line of defense against efforts to meld church and state in the public schools. By monitoring local school boards, we will be able to act to keep the First Amendment intact and ensure that state-developed content standards maintain historical accuracy and integrity.
As of early June at the AHA 2010 conference, we have had continuing communication with approximately 60 people who have indicated interest in this endeavor and who have either submitted resources or indicated that they will do so. That is an excellent beginning! But as you see from the list of projected activities, the tasks are large. We hope that there are many members of the American Humanist Association and other supporters of humanism who will want to be part of the Humanist Teacher Corps. We aim to expand this number ten-fold--and hopefully more!