Category Archives: Habits and Virtues

This category discusses habits of mind and intellectual virtues that core curricula instill and develop in students.

Using the W to Develop Academic Character

This is the second post in a three-part series on a merit-based W.

In a previous post I concluded with the contention that making the W an earned grade would not only help students take their classes—including core text courses—more seriously, but would also lead to three additional benefits: students would develop the virtues of responsibility, merit, and integrity; raise their grades; and graduate sooner. I will develop the first of these three claims below, saving the other two for a final post on this topic. Continue reading Using the W to Develop Academic Character

Preparing Students for the Real World, Not Video Games

WThis is the first post in a three-part series on a merit-based W.

Students in core text courses can be (in)famous for their complaints about how required liberal arts courses are a waste of time and money because those courses have no practical value in preparing them for the “real world.” One semester not that long ago I received this written criticism from a student who had taken two of our university’s commonly-required Core history and literature courses:

I do not know what was going through the Core boards members when they concocted this curriculum, perhaps they did not understand the fact that we students have many other classes which are more pertinent to our LIVES and future CAREERS than English [and history] reading is….[S]ome of us are more concerned with the real education we came to school for.

Why do students react this way to core text courses? I submit that one significant (and completely ignored) reason is that universities tell students that college is a video game, not real life. Continue reading Preparing Students for the Real World, Not Video Games

Philosophy and Virtue

Plato and Aristotle in the School fo Athens

As a father, I want to help my children develop good character—to learn self-control, humility, wisdom, perseverance, and similar virtues. I want the best for my children, and I believe that adults who exercise such virtues are more likely to achieve what is best for them. I have a similar attitude toward my students. I want the best for them, and I think certain virtues will help them achieve it. My role with my students, however, is more limited than with my children. I’m not likely to help my students develop more self-control than they already have, and life will probably teach wisdom better than I can ever hope to. However, there are two virtues I can help my students develop: humility and perseverance. Continue reading Philosophy and Virtue