Are the six virtues ever vices?

Naturally, I was drawn to the September/October, 2013, Psychology Today article entitled, “When Virtue Becomes Vice” (by Mary Loftus). The author should have read my book, where I explained that the greatest of all social science truths is, “In all situations, it depends on the situation.” That was her main point, although she didn’t state it in the article. Continue reading →

The fundamentals of “educated”

When New Jersey high school basketball coach Bob Hurley was featured on a nightly news broadcast last year, they showed him roaming the court during a shooting drill. Over and over, he said, “Eyes on the basket. Head up. Look at the target.”

I never heard basketball coaches tell shooters to look at the basket, but I often heard baseball coaches tell batters to “keep your eye on the ball.” Of course, looking at the basket is just as basic to becoming a good shooter as “keeping your eye on the ball” is to becoming a good hitter. Coach Hurley was teaching his players to develop the habit that is common to all good shooters. Without that habit, no matter what else players do, they will not become good shooters.

Similarly, The Six Virtues of the Educated Person explains that a person is not educated, no matter what knowledge and skills they have, if they don’t have understanding, imagination, strength, courage, humility and generosity — the fundamentals of “educated.”

What is a teacher’s job?

Dear Teacher:

You believe your job is to apply what research has found to be “effective.” I believe your job is to appreciate your subject matter and students. We believe in different job descriptions for the same reason — your experiences taught you to believe in yours, my experiences taught me to believe in mine.

Professors of education taught both of us that teachers should be professionals who apply what research has found to be “effective.” The difference in our experiences comes before that. You were taught to embrace what is taught in school, I was taught to challenge it.

Even though you can’t describe a time when applying what was “effective” had the desired effect, you will continue to believe that is your job because that is what you were taught. When we believe things we can’t support with experience or reason, we “just believe” them, anyway.

In this case, though, the results are disastrous for the improvement of education. Because 99% of teachers “just believe” what is not true — that teaching is an applied social science — schools have not improved over the last 50 years. If you believe they have improved, describe how they are improved and describe the social science findings that were applied to achieve that improvement.

BTW — when you had classes with education professors, did they describe the research findings they were applying? Did you ever wonder why they didn’t?  Now you know why. I love irony.

“Fear of truth” clarified

In an earlier blog I argued that the vice opposite courage is “fear of truth” because, by virtue of being true, truths should be accepted, not feared. Addicts, for example, “fear truth.” Psychologists say they can’t overcome addiction until they confront the truth that they are addicted — the truth they fear the most.

The point of this blog is that fear of truth is not a moral failing, but a barrier to courageous action. Here are three truths, followed by the courage we don’t see because the truth is feared. The first is from politics, the other two are from education: Continue reading →

Report on “educated” #1 of 4

The following is an unedited report from a Western Carolina University MAED student in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

What It Means To Be Educated

Marcia Mungo

Acting Vice Principal, Cambridge High School

     In a world which thrives on competition in every aspect of our daily routine, there will always be comparisons and standards for almost everything possible. The reality is that especially in areas where some type of formal training takes place, persons will always develop yardsticks to measure the effectiveness of the various programmes. Similarly in education, competence will always be measured in terms of excellence versus average and inefficiency. It is within this context that the terms educated and schooled must be analyzed as many people will admit that there is a difference between being educated and being schooled. The difficulty which they may have is in distinguishing between the two, that is ,who is educated and who is schooled. There are however some common threads which surface once the debate intensifies, one of which is that being schooled is not as comprehensive as being educated. Another point is that the educated person is seen as being superior or socially more desirable than a schooled person. The educated person is perceived as being more articulate, congenial, sensitive and in short more sociable than the schooled person. The educated person is often admired and emulated for his poise, confidence and charisma which set him apart from the arrogant, proud and conceited individuals who are merely schooled. Continue reading →

Define “educated” with 6 virtues, and 21st Century Skills are covered

If you believe we should define 21st Century skills, but not define what it means to be educated, check out this blog or download this PDF. If you realize that modeling and teaching the six virtues covers these skills, read here.

Three ideas from 21st Century skills blog: Continue reading →

Generosity from pride looks like this

I describe American school graduates as being taught to develop: (1) understanding that is unimaginative, (2) strong character that is fearful of truth, and (3) generosity that emerges from pride.

Yesterday’s Dear Abby column had the following story from a Michigan woman. It paints a picture of Number 3:

I don’t have a car. I can’t afford one.  For the last two years a friend has been doing me a favor by taking me grocery shopping each week. I can (and do) take the bus to the grocery store, but it makes it easier to buy things in bulk with a car. We have dinner, go to an occasional film and generally have a good time hanging out. I buy her dinner sometimes as a thank-you. Recently, I got to meet a group of her friends. She introduced me to everyone by going over the history of my not having a car, and how she takes me grocery shopping. They all began praising her for her kindness. I was upset and embarrassed that rather than introduce me as a friend, she portrayed me as an object of her charity.




Teachers define “educated”

Educators at Western Alamance Middle School (WAMS) in Elon, NC, recently discussed their definitions of the educated person.  As part of that activity, forty-eight (48) school personnel answered the following three questions on a half-sheet of paper:

1. What do you think it means to be educated?

2. Which of the six virtues (understanding, imagination, strength, courage, humility and generosity) do you feel are the most important and why?

3. How do you try and incorporate these in your classroom?

Continue reading →

Improving schools is difficult. Don’t make it complicated.

A must-read for school personnel is Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal’s Reframing Organizations (RO). It uses clear language to explain an idea that is so simple it can be remembered and applied in even the most complex, hectic, school situations. When applied to schools, the theory behind RO is that educators acquire a full understanding of school situations by looking at them through four different “frames:” (1) structural, (2) human relations, (3) political, and (4) symbolic.

Continue reading →

Generosity gives in both directions

From Kimberly Leonard, Resource Teacher for Academically Gifted, Louisburg Elementary School, NC

This past Christmas our school and a local business sponsored a coat drive for needy children. Once the coats were in, we wrapped and tagged them for size and gender.

As children arrived in the school lobby, they took seats around the Christmas tree. When they started opening and trying on their gifts, their faces lit with excitement.

One little boy put his hands in the pockets of his new coat.  He discovered gloves and money and screamed, “I found 10 dollars in my pocket!” One of the business sponsors asked him what he was going to spend it on.  He thought a minute and said, “I’ve never had money before to buy my mom a present. What can I buy her for Christmas with 10 dollars?”

This 8-year-old boy’s generous spirit shook the earth below our feet.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  And the generous spirits of the donaters will be remembered forever in these young hearts.  Giving always lets you reap more than you sow.