Fostering Intellectual Virtues in the Classroom

The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is a three-year grant project sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation and housed at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  It is devoted to developing and applying the first systematic formulation of an “intellectual virtues educational model,” which is a model that focuses on fostering intellectual character virtues like curiosity, wonder, intellectual carefulness, intellectual thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual humility, and intellectual rigor.

While the idea of “character education” is not new in educational theory, most character education models and programs have tended to focus on fostering moral or civic virtues rather than intellectual virtues. However, with the recent advent of “virtue epistemology” in mainstream philosophy, robust theories of intellectual virtue now exist. The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is devoted to applying and implementing this material in an educational context.

The project consists primarily of the following six elements:

  • Academic Workshop: a weeklong workshop in July of 2012 that will bring together top scholars in virtue epistemology, philosophy of education, and educational theory and psychology to read about, reflect on, and discuss: (a) the nature and structure of intellectual character virtues; (b) the place of intellectual character formation within the proper aims and goals of education; and (c) how best to foster intellectual character virtues in an educational setting.
  • Academic Conference: a three-day academic conference in June of 2013 on intellectual virtues and education, drawing scholars and teachers from across philosophy, philosophy of education, and educational theory and psychology. A call for papers will be sent out in the fall of 2012.
  • Edited Volume: Project Director Jason Baehr will edit a volume of essays, some from the academic conference described above, on intellectual virtues and education. The volume will give special attention to (a) the importance of intellectual character formation vis-à-vis the proper aims and goals of education and (b) methods for fostering intellectual character virtues in an educational context.
  • Implementation Guide: Project Director Jason Baehr, in consultation with Ron Ritchhart from Harvard University’s Project Zero, will develop a systematic guide for implementing an intellectual virtues educational model in an educational context. It will provide a practical and detailed account of how to promote intellectual character development across a wide range of educational dimensions, including curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment.
  • Pedagogy Seminars: a series of one-day and weeklong workshops aimed at training 15 local secondary teachers and administrators in an intellectual virtues approach to education. Seminar participants will also experiment with and provide feedback regarding the Implementation Guide described above.
  • Intellectual Virtues and Education Resource Page: an online repository for teachers, administrators, and scholars interested in learning more about an intellectual virtues approach to education. The Implementation Guide described above will be available for download from this site.

The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is closely tied to another exciting educational initiative also sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach (IVA) is a grades 6-8 public charter school presently being founded in Long Beach, CA, and scheduled to open in the fall of 2013 (pending petition approval). IVA’s distinctive focus is educating for intellectual virtues. If its petition is approved, IVA will implement and benefit from an array of resources produced by the Intellectual Virtues and Education Project, including the Implementation Guide, Pedagogy Seminars, Intellectual Virtues and Education Resource Page described above.

Visit the website for Intellectual Virtues Project.

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