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Teachers as a Source of Inspiration in Catholic Schools

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Teachers are expected to pursue formative goals. The question is how teachers in Catholic schools can actively manage to form learners in the perspective of gospel and Catholic tradition while still respecting the learners' freedom. One way of seeing this is to look at the inspiration that is supposed to emanate from the teachers. The concept 'inspiration' can help to identify a normative perspective on the interrelationship of education and students' freedom.

To inspire can be defined as providing reasons for action (Searle, 1983, 2001). On the basis of their qualities teachers can be a source of inspiration for students. Inspiring teachers give students reasons to excel.

The aim of this study is to find out whether teachers in Catholic schools inspire their students. The question is which qualities are attributed to inspiring teachers, and which qualities to students who are inspired by these teachers. It is expected that teachers' qualities relate to students' qualities. To what extent can teachers' qualities explain the development of students' qualities? The study consists in a survey of 1 179 participants. Findings show that four clusters of qualities are attributed to inspiring teachers, and three clusters of qualities to students who are inspired. Remarkably, the cluster 'imparting sense' relates to all three clusters of students' qualities. Teachers' qualities, moreover, help to explain the development of students' qualities to a reasonable extent. The findings are put in a participatory perspective in a concluding discussion.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud University Nijmegen


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