In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the importance of professionalism and just what it is to offer quality in education. In Part 2, we looked at service and breaking open the actual purpose of education – for we are educated in order to perform a job or service that is always ultimately for others. In exploring all of this, we have started to look at what really matters in education.
Equally alongside professionalism and service, is the critical importance of integrity. But what actually is integrity?
Integrity is a wonderful thing, that exposes the minimum standards we have accepted in education. Any time we accept anything as a minimum tick-box, we are operating without integrity.
For instance, if we educate someone about Work Health and Safety to tick a box, then we may produce a student who can answer questions to satisfy ‘competence’ but will not necessarily prioritise a safe workplace, because a safe workplace is about caring for people, not ticking a box.
Similarly, if we educate students who study diversity units, to tolerate people from different backgrounds, then we will produce graduates who may appear respectful in their outer speech but this lacks true quality, unless they have been taught and understand the fact of equalness.
The fact is, as we have explored in our series on minimum standards, the current standards we have accepted in education are actually very low, when we look at the level that they could be at. This is not to say that the standards we have are bad, as they are not. They must be met and that is important. It is just that they are at a low level – compared to where they should be.
When someone operates with integrity, they bring a great dedication to bringing a certain quality to their work because they know that they have a responsibility to themselves, to their clients, to the profession they are a part of, and to the community and society as a whole, to play their part in full.
A person with integrity, therefore, operates not in perfection but with a very solid commitment to ensuring that their part is all it can be. They therefore know that no one person is responsible for changing the world, but each and every one of us contributes to the whole we get to experience and therefore we have a very real responsibility – to each other – to ensure that our part adds truly to the quality of the whole.
In order to teach integrity, we need to be living it ourselves. We explore this further in Part 4 of this series, which is all about Walking the Talk.