Trust is a concept that we do not often discuss in the context of the school environment but it is a concept that is fundamental to both the good functioning of a school and the relationships within it. The Webster dictionary defines trust as “an assured (or confident) reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
The combination of these two words has fascinated me for some years. And after meeting Jamie Smith and reading “Desiring the Kingdom” I became hooked on what seemed an obvious proposition: that every teacher whether they recognised it or not, was contributing to the moral, spiritual, social and cultural formation of their students. Jamie’s focus on rituals and liturgy as outcomes of the process made a lot of sense.
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).
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).