Do The Right Thing!

Moral purpose

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the outstanding teacher who creates a collaborative response from her students. Both are focused on the wellbeing of the other: the teacher on the child and the student on not disappointing or letting down the adult.

Essentially, every teacher is focused on the well being of their students but most do not stimulate the same response as this.


A useful saying that explains this difference is “managers do things right, but leaders do the right things”. As education is undergoing a transformation in its underlying moral purpose from creating conforming young people to creating those who are confident, collaborative and creative, then ‘doing things right’ and ‘doing the right things’ have diverged.

Most teachers do things right (as they were educated and as the existing system encourages) yet the outstanding teacher does the right thing that optimises the engagement and growth of their students that their students need (and have always needed).

It is the development of a clear moral purpose that guides the move towards doing the right thing and then, of course, doing it right.

Michael Fullan -in ‘Moral Purpose Writ Large’ – describes moral purpose as “principled behavior connected to something greater than ourselves that relates to human and social development.”

Shifting our moral purpose means a change in behaviour, how we behave with each other and with children. More behaving in the blue zone, less behaving in the red zone reflects a shift in moral purpose.

Let's make that explicit.

John Corrigan