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Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence 6/2017

22-03-2017 | Empirical Research

The Varieties of Character and Some Implications for Character Education

Auteur: Jason Baehr

Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 6/2017

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Abstract

The moral and civic dimensions of personal character have been widely recognized and explored. Recent work by philosophers, psychologists, and education theorists has drawn attention to two additional dimensions of character: intellectual character and “performance” character. This article sketches a “four-dimensional” conceptual model of personal character and some of the character strengths or “virtues” proper to each dimension. In addition to exploring how the dimensions of character are related to each other, the article also examines the implications of this account for character education undertaken in a youth or adolescent context. It is argued that “intellectual character education,” which emphasizes the development of intellectual virtues like curiosity, open-mindedness, and intellectual courage, is an underexplored but especially promising approach in this context. The relationship between intellectual character education and traditional character education, which emphasizes the development of moral and civic virtues like kindness, generosity, and tolerance, is also explored.
Voetnoten
1
As this description suggests, the educational scholarship on performance character draws heavily on work in positive psychology and related areas of research, for example, on work by Peterson and Seligman (2004) and Angela Duckworth and Patrick Quinn (2009). It also aligns with work on what philosophers sometimes refer to as “structural virtues” (Adams 2006) or “virtues of will power” (Roberts 1984).
 
2
In fact, this point is trickier than it might seem. For instance, getting clear on what exactly counts as a moral good is a serious challenge, one that may be impossible to settle in a non-stipulative manner. Moreover, some philosophers have conceived of moral virtues as including some self-regarding qualities—e.g., temperance. This complicates thinking about moral virtues as the character strengths of a good neighbor. For more on this, see Baehr 2011, Appendix.
 
3
It bears noting that the “intersection” of intellectual virtues, on the one hand, of moral and civic virtues, on the other, is somewhat different than the intersection of intellectual virtues and performance virtues. Moral and civic virtues cannot function as intellectual virtues in quite the same way that performance virtues can. This is because moral and civic virtues by definition involve a characteristic motivation different from that of intellectual virtues (whereas, with performance virtues, the corresponding motivation is “open”).
 
4
Of course, the notion of “performance character” could be given a broad construal, such that it covers any dimension of character that is not moral or civic. Such a construal, however, would seriously dilute the notion of performance character. Further, it would run afoul of the plausible idea that intellectual virtues, arising as they do from a positive orientation toward “epistemic goods,” gain their status as such at least partly on account of an element of virtuous or admirable motivation (whereas, by definition, performance virtues derive their status as virtues on other, non-motivational grounds). For more on this point, see Baehr 2011, Chs. 6-7.
 
5
Thanks to Ben Kotzee for raising this question.
 
6
One can, of course, challenge the idea that education should concern itself primarily with academic practices and goals. However, even if the scope of education were broadened so as to incorporate a greater concern with students’ moral or civic formation, say, this would not negate the importance of their epistemic formation, and so would do little to undermine the unique educational significance of intellectual virtues.
 
7
David Shields (2011) briefly discusses this approach, as does Seider (2012, pp. 231–32). For a fairly comprehensive account of what “intellectual character education” looks like in practice, the best works are (Ritchhart 2002, 2015). See (Baehr 2015) for a downloadable resource guide that draws from Ritchhart’s work and integrates it with work in virtue epistemology.
 
Literatuur
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Metagegevens
Titel
The Varieties of Character and Some Implications for Character Education
Auteur
Jason Baehr
Publicatiedatum
22-03-2017
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Journal of Youth and Adolescence / Uitgave 6/2017
Print ISSN: 0047-2891
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-6601
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0654-z

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