A Response to Teichman by Shira Service

Morals and Formal Education

On Monday, November 26, 2012, Sherman Teichman visited our Social Sciences class and gave a lecture. Teichman is currently the founding Executive Director of the Institute of Global Leadership at Tufts University. He has also been a lecturer in the arts and social sciences at Tufts since 1984. He began his lecture by providing limited biographical information, such as the facts listed above, in order for us to have some context through which we could understand him. After this, Teichman seemed to enjoy a free-flowing layout to his lecture. He warned the class that he is known for going off on tangents during his lectures, and seemed to follow his claim as he let his subject matter shift quickly from one idea to another.

I did not see this as a negative point in his lecture: to me, this was purely a style or method of sharing information. In the context of our small classroom, it felt more like he was able to sit down and tell stories to us, in a manner more intimate than a cold, planned lecture. Teichman seemed to follow his heart on what seemed right to speak about at a given moment.

Although his discussion veered in many directions, including poverty, crime stricken neighborhoods, high morals, and religion, he emphasized his opinion that proper educational systems benefit societies and peoples beyond measure. After describing his youth in a low class, poverty stricken, dangerous Long Island City, he said that nothing could remove such inequality or lack of opportunity as easily as education. He feels that the best way to move a society or community forward, for the better, is by providing a decent education. Yet, what he emphasized here, and what stood out to me, was his connection with morals and ethics with education. He said, no high-level education will do anything if deep morals and ethics are not taught alongside. I believe it is on this basis that he spoke of his own faith, and said that he is a deeply moral and faithful Jewish man.

It seems obvious that education should positively impact interpersonal relationships, the workforce, creativity, and innovations within a community. To me, this is a clear relationship, where new knowledge and understanding through receiving an education allows a person to more easily relate to the world around them. But, when Teichman mentioned faith and morals, he brought the discussion elsewhere. Learning, in general, begins when a person asks “why” or “how” about something, and receives an answer. When the answer is discovered, the person is theoretically more knowledgeable, or smarter than they were before. However, Teichman’s point reflects the questioning of learning itself. “Why is it important to learn?” “Why must I do this the difficult way just to help them?”. Teichman made the point that even a great education could be rendered useless without high morals underlying and backing up the education. Through this point, I began thinking that it is the learning which provides the knowledge, and the morals or faith which causes a person to decide when, where, and why to apply this knowledge.