Around the world educators and philanthropists, for a multiplicity of reasons, seem to be taking a fresh interest in devoting time and resources to what is variously called ‘character development,’ ‘character education’ or ‘positive psychology.’ In the United Kingdom, the wealthy businessman, Sir John Templeton has declared that character, and specifically its neglect, is the number one issue of our age. A society that is not grounded in deep values, that doesn’t know who are its heroes and which lacks commitment to the common good, is one that is failing. Such we have become.’
What an amazing opportunity schools have, to build into the men and women of tomorrow. To speak into their character development and to equip them with the skills and tools to think and to contribute. To hold out to them the existence of ‘truth’, and training in the tools to pursue and find it. At a time when our culture is moving quickly towards uncertainty and relativity, a place where there is no one truth, but many truths, we have a great responsibility.
Dow explains that the benefits that come to the intellectually virtuous person can be broken down into 3 categories: we come to know more, become better thinkers, and become better people (p79).
In February 2012, Anglican EdComm, acting on behalf of the Diocese of Sydney, urged the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill, to commission an external review of the teaching of Special Religious Education (Scripture) and Special Education in Ethics in government schools in New South Wales. There was vocal opposition from some members of the Committee but the Government bought the idea and ARTD Consultants were given the task.
Intellectual humility is probably the most difficult of the virtues to develop because this goes against the currents of our culture, and pride is deeply rooted in all of us (p75).
We often do what we want and then create a moral code that suits our actions……the result is a corrupted intellectual conscience that no longer values the truth, if it can still distinguish the truth from falsehood at all. Dallas Willard has argued that this results in our behaviour guiding our ethics rather than our ethics guiding our behaviour (p66). What a dangerous place to be!
Curiosity is defined as “an eager desire to know; inquisitiveness”. It asks the questions ‘why’ and ‘how’ and pursues the answers. It is often the forerunner of invention and new ideas. It is not just a state of mind but is active in its observation, investigation and exploration; in its pursuit of answers.
“Those who are fair-minded earnestly want to know the truth and thus are willing to listen in an even handed way to differing opinions, even if they already have strong views on the subject…they attempt to view the issue from the perspective of their opponents, believing they do not always have the most accurate or complete vantage point on a given issue….. they have chosen to put the truth above allegiance to their ego or cherished opinions…..” (p50)
There is something deeply satisfying about completing a task, especially when that task included significant obstacles or hardships. (p44)
Intellectual tenacity is simply dogged determination. It is this determination that in both our actions and our thinking habits often makes the difference between success and failure, fulfilment and frustration (p39).
"It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world." (p33)
The fact that we fail to be adequately careful in our thinking is usually not the fault of our intentions but simply the result of our being out of practice (p35). We are quick to defend our sloppiness with excuses like lack of time or overload of tasks and responsibilities. We may even come to believe that there is not enough time to be deliberately careful in our thinking. After all, in the everyday of life it doesn’t seem to make that much difference to the outcomes.