Teaching (With) Virtues through Incorporating Supplemental Instruction

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Dr. Gregory Sadler's conference paper on the interplay between teaching moral virtues and implementing Supplemental Instruction.

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Teaching (With) Virtues through Incorporating Supplemental Instruction

  1. 1. Teaching (With) Virtues Through Incorporating Supplemental Instruction Gregory B. Sadler, ReasonIO greg@reasonio.com What sorts of skills and dispositions do we need to attend to or cultivate in order to renderSupplemental Instruction a highly effective pedagogical resource? There are three likely immediateanswers to this question, responses which do possess their merits in pointing out important factors forsuccess in implementation of this resource: disciplinary knowledge, pedagogical expertise, and thebroad category of “people skills”. I’ll acknowledge the importance of these shortly, but before doingthat, I’d like to bring up another type of set of skills and dispositions: the virtues, both intellectual andmoral. In the next twenty-five or so minutes, I’ll be sketching out a broadly Aristotelian Virtue Ethicsframework within which I suggest Supplemental Instruction might be very profitably located andfurther thought out. I would like to make clear from the start that I’m not proposing that this VirtueEthics framework be viewed as a competitor to other good ways of understanding and orienting SI wfocus more thematically on other aspects or dimensions of SI. I’d rather it be seen as a usefulcomplementary perspective. Multiple sets of skills and dispositions are needed or desirable for both Instructors and studentswho are Supplemental Instruction leaders or coaches. Expertise in an academic discipline, in whathappens to be the subject matter being studied, is one of these. That almost goes without saying, but it isworth dwelling on this, since one of the prevalent misconceptions of which we so often have to disabuseour students is that learning and expertise is largely a matter of acquiring information, rather than ofdeveloping a battery of skills, some general like written communication, critical thinking, and problemsolving, others specific to the subject matter but often susceptible of transfer or analogy to othercontexts when a level of mastery has been attained. Even deeper than skills, and equally important aredispositions, developed habits, general attitudes, outlooks and approaches, affective orientations andpatterns of desire and emotional response. In one of the main fields in which I work, Critical Thinking,that field of performance and expertise has long been identified by one of the most rigorous disciplinarymodels and self-studies, the APA Delphi Report, as consisting specifically in skills and dispositions.Within classical Aristotelian philosophy of education, such an assemblage of interlocking and scaffoldedknowledge, skills, and dispositions well-established in the mind of the learner is termed a hexis orhabitus. It becomes as it were a possession rooted in the being of the knower (and doer, actor, producer,(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 1
  2. 2. communicator) and is, when developed, one type of intellectual virtue, a state of excellence of thehuman mind. As all of us know, some of us having been schooled by painful experience, there is an art and anexpertise whose product is consistently teaching well. It is different from though does bear affinitieswith certain types of disciplinary expertise. One can be a great scholar in a particular field, afire withpalpable and communicable passion for its objects, and yet teach material one knows inside and out inways confusing, uninformative, even inscrutable to one’s students. This is a second sort of skills anddesirable dispositions susceptible of being taught, even formalized in certain systems to some degree. Athird is that set which often get called things like “people skills,” not merely a matter of communicationabilities, but the capacity to relate oneself to others, to their ideas, environments, emotions, ideas,experiences. This third set of skills and dispositions in fact overlaps in part with the second, one reasonwhy teaching well cannot be routinized, turned into a science, reduced to lesson plans, etc. – theguardrails of pedagogy. Both sets of skills and dispositions, I should point out, may involve the sort ofhabitus specific to disciplinary knowledge. It’s worth noting for the moment that they also involve theexcellence of phronesis, prudentia, or practical wisdom, which I’ll discuss a bit later. An ideal instructor develops, possesses, exhibits, integrates, and models well all three of these allof the time. Real instructors like ourselves, of course, do these more or less well, more or lessconsistently, stronger in some areas, at particular times, in certain types of situations than in others,hopefully improving, reflecting on good or bad experiences, intentions, and outcomes, adding to ourareas of strength and expertise through theoretical study, interaction with our peers, appropriatinguseful or engaging resources, putting things into practice, and thoughtful reassessment. As a result – orbetter put – through these processes, education occurs, learning takes place within, through, bystudents, more or less successfully. Hopefully the students come out of the class not only having learneddisciplinary information at a surface and easily forgotten level, but at the deeper, more retentive andintegrated levels signified when we speak of disciplinary knowledge as a habitus. They might havedeveloped some initial or additional competencies in people skills or even in pedagogical competency,depending on what has taken place in the class, what the students themselves have done, participatedin, observed, studied, and reflected upon. Adding an SI leader or any sort of intermediary, a Teaching Assistant or a Tutor for instance,renders these matters more complex, since the intermediary functions as an instructor, albeit at a(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 2
  3. 3. different level and in different ways, and as a student, albeit a student with a higher, more integratedgrasp of the course material. There’s also the question of the degree to, and the ways which theinstructor teaches, interacts with, and fosters the development of the SI leader, and the feedback aboutor insight into the students provided to the instructor by the SI leader who has a unique and usefulvantage point from which to observe and interact with students. With this more complex andpotentially more productive arrangement outlined, we can raise the question of whether what is goingon, what could potentially be going on, what ought to be going on, and what we as instructors wouldlike to be going on – for these are not the same and can often suffer a disconnect -- can be adequatelyconceptualized solely in terms of disciplinary knowledge, pedagogical expertise, and people skills. All of these are important, to be sure, but I would like to say that, and to some extent say whyand how, thinking about SI in terms of the family of approaches in moral theory called Virtue Ethicscontributes to developing a yet more adequate understanding of what still more effective use of SIwould look like. So, before doing those things, let me make clear some of the suggestions I am and amnot making. I am suggesting that Virtue Ethics provides a needed complement to other more explicitlypedagogical-theoretical and less explicitly moral-theoretical approaches. I am not suggesting thatVirtue Ethics is a substitute for other approaches. I am also not saying that the instructor whosedisciplinary competence lies in some other field now also needs to become a disciplinary expert inPhilosophy or Ethics, let alone a specialist in Virtue Ethics. I am saying that some of the typicalcomponents of a Virtue Ethics approach are susceptible of being adopted and appropriated as usefulportions of one’s own approach to effective employment of SI leaders. These components do this in twoways. There are some ideas or considerations a Virtue Ethics approach provides unlikely to be providedor even realized as needed in its absence. There are other ideas or considerations already in place, onthe table, which while making good sense in themselves, find themselves further illuminated by a VirtueEthics approach, one example of this being practical wisdom ‘s important role in pedagogical expertiseand people skills. What I plan to do in this short talk, before opening the floor up to address any questions,concerns, complaints, and then to engage in dialogue, are four things. I’m going to give a necessarilyvery brief overview of Virtue Ethics as a type of moral theory. Then, I’m going to look at the purposes orends of SI within that framework. After that, I’m going to discuss which virtues (and vices) areimportant to focus upon in order to ensure effective use of SI. Lastly, I’m going to talk a bit about(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 3
  4. 4. conditions necessary for developing virtues and integrating them with the three other sets of skills anddispositions. So, what is Virtue Ethics? Along with Utilitarianism, Deontological Ethics, Natural Law Ethics,and Ethics of Care, for examples, Virtue Ethics is one of the main well-established and coherent moraltheories which we teach in Ethics and various Applied Ethics courses. It actually represents an entirefamily of moral theories, some of which have been developed in relation or response to each other, so itincludes ethics articulated by ancient philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, medievalthinkers like SS. Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and non-western thinkers like Confucius. It alsoincludes traditions of further interpretation and enquiry continuing these ethics, down to contemporarythinkers like Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum. One of the distinctive features shared by all ofthese various virtue ethics is making virtues and vices -- the array of good and bad moral dispositionsdeveloped as habits over time through actions and choices -- of central consideration in evaluating thegoodness or badness, the rightness or wrongness, the appropriateness or inappropriateness of actions,emotional responses , intentions and choices, policies and institutions, even of persons. Instead ofsimply focusing on conformity to rules discoverable by reason, or following moral or professional codes,or calculating best outcomes for all or most concerned, or displaying compassion, or even on otherbroad ethical principles, Virtue Ethics goes beyond and situates all of these in relation to three other setsof matters: reframing thinking in terms of horizons of human flourishing, excellence, means and ends;identifying and understanding the specific range of virtues and vices that need to be cultivated orrooted out; and determining how virtues and vices are to actually be cultivated or rooted out in actualpractice. It makes good sense to start by stepping back momentarily and asking several questions oftenoverlooked, forgotten, or unsuspected as we go about all our many actions and involvements aseducators. Many of us already routinely ask questions similar in intent though different in scope as anintegral component of our work as educators. When carrying out integrated course design, forinstance, we ask ourselves about broad, big-picture learning goals or objectives for our students as wellas determining what student learning outcomes we want to focus on, and then we think about whatlearning activities would provide practice and ways of assessing those outcomes. In doing so, we arereflecting on, deliberating about, and ordering ends and means. We can broaden the horizons of suchquestioning, and this is what Virtue Ethics in fact typically does, asking: what is the purpose, what arethe goods achieved by, what are the goods necessary as conditions for, what is the end of education?(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 4
  5. 5. What counts as excellence in teaching? What counts as excellence in learning? Asking and attemptingto answer these sorts of questions can open up even bigger and deeper questions, like how – if it does –does education fit into the framework of living well, of flourishing as a human being? I don’t aim to answer precisely these questions here, but to bring them up in order to narrowsome of them into a more specific set. What is the purpose of an SI leader? What are the goods they areinstrumental in producing? What constitutes excellence in their specific type of educational activity?These sorts of questions, again, all too easily get lost sight of in our actual, busily packed educationalactivities, as I know from both my own experience and from observing and speaking with my peers.We already have curricula set out and built into our courses, we get assigned an SI leader (for which ofcourse we’re grateful) perhaps even one we recommended, and now it’s a matter of integrating thatstudent into our course. But, how should we do this? A number of varied purposes come to mind when we ask why we have, and how we can use, anSI leader. The broadest, most overarching one is of course, to improve student learning in our classes,but what does that mean and how does that take determinate form? At the very least, SI leaders providevital contact hours in addition to our own class time and (often little used) office hours, during whichstudents are engaging with the course material. They may also provide individuated, personal, hands-on instruction for students who attend their sessions, cover material from different vantage points, orprovide additional examples or applications needed to help students wrap their heads around courseconcepts. They support and extend the teaching built into the course, carried out in class sessions,structured by the instructor. Like course instructors, SI leaders help students progress towards thegoods of knowledge, whether pursued for merely instrumental reasons or towards intrinsic valuesresiding in subjects, concepts, texts, or approaches studied in the course. What is distinctive to SI leaders, as opposed to tutors or TAs are two things: they are allundergraduate students at that institution, on the same level more or less as the students with whomthey are engaged; and, they are students who excelled in that particular course, with that particularprofessor. Both of these provide SI leaders with distinct advantages in reaching and assisting students.They are regarded as peers of a sort, as living examples that, and how, one can excel in a course, taughtby a particular professor. They are viewed as particularly well-informed not just about a given subjectin general, but about how their assigned professor structures their course, teaches the material, andevaluates student performance.(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 5
  6. 6. What makes an SI leader excellent? We instructors need to know this not only so that we canrecognize when we are fortunate enough to have excellent SI leaders, but also so that we can steer the SIleaders we recruit towards the needed forms and dimensions of excellence. One might suppose that thegreater, easier, and more rapid mastery a potential SI leader demonstrates of course material, the moreeffective he or she will be, but this is not necessarily so. In some respects, it is far better to employ an SIleader who, while intelligent, has struggled at some points or in certain manners with the material,since such a student now teaching possesses an affective and intellectual grasp of the starting conditionof many students, some understanding of what is required to proceed beyond it, and an ability to modelthe means and possibility of success to their peers. Ideally, one would want an SI leader to becontinuing in their own education in the subject matter, expanding their expertise, discerning andworking on their weak points, deepening their understanding, developing a wider and better range ofillustrative examples and applications. SI leaders need to be good students, already doing well and alsoon an established trajectory towards further improvement, and likewise they need to be developingteachers. Towards developing excellence in these two roles, and in the particular combination of them,SI leaders require some degree of development of one intellectual virtue, practical wisdom, and evenmore the development of certain moral virtues. This will also require some development andunderstanding of these virtues on the part of instructors. What are moral virtues? They are habitual dispositions gradually by practice established withina person’s character or personality. They take the form of typically and characteristically acting,feeling, and making use of things like property, relationships, pleasures and pains, even one’s time ingood or right ways. The person who is virtuous possesses , intellectually, affectively, or with acombination of both, right assessments and attitudes towards what is to be done, what goods are at stakeand how they ought to be best ordered, pursued, produced, or preserved. Possession and practice of thevirtues is what enables a person to flourish in determinate ways and quite often to aid others towardstheir own flourishing, their own doing well. Since Aristotle’s time, it has been explicitly recognized thatvirtues are mean or middle states, in between vicious and deleterious extremes of deficiency and excessin the matter with which they are concerned. A few other things need be said about virtue. It is possible for a person to do virtuous actionswithout him or herself being virtuous, i.e. having that virtue well-established in his or her character.One might act in the way a virtuous person would, as just, or moderate, or honest, or courageous, butoccasionally rather than consistently. One might behave consistently in the way virtuous people tend(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 6
  7. 7. to, but not because one chooses that for its own sake, as the right or good way to behave or be, forinstance when one behaves courageously in order to earn wealth or some other reward, or when onebehaves justly in order to keep on other people’s good sides or to avoid punishment. One can evenrecognize the goodness of a virtue, the needfulness of it for oneself, will to practice it consistently, andnot yet be virtuous, because, as Aristotle noted, for the genuinely virtuous person, such responses havebecome “second nature,” easy, pleasurable. The person who is moderate or self-controlled with respectto bodily pleasures such as eating takes the right amounts, at the right times, in the right ways, andenjoys doing so. Virtue involves choice, and it also involves understanding or knowledge of what theright thing to do is in determinate situations, going beyond mere reliance on rules, principles, orprocedures, grasping how best to apply them in the circumstances. So, moral virtues are really sets ofdispositions and skills, having interconnected practical, affective, and intellectual dimensions. Which among the many virtues that Virtue Ethicists have progressively identified, analyzed, andreinterpreteted down through the centuries would be particularly important to think about for SI? As Ithought this through, seven main virtues and one additional virtue-like state come to mind. This is notan exhaustive list, of course, and is likely to grow as this topic gets more thought and discussion. It isimportant to point out that in Virtue Ethics, not every single desirable quality a person might have is infact something that can be labeled as a virtue. Genuine virtues are complexes of habitually developedskills and dispositions, and as such have identifiable and intelligible structures which in determinatesituations lead to their possessors choosing a range of right, good, appropriate, needed actions andhaving the associated affective responses. So, a trait like “having a work ethic”, if we do not remain at asurface level of its name and a general positive reaction to it, and examine it more closely, turns out notto itself be a virtue, but to denote several features which are components of, or which are particularinstantiations of several virtues. Likewise, “forgiveness”, a popular philosophical topic at present, is notas some have suggested itself a virtue, but rather is something that flows from a virtue, that of “goodtemper” or “mildness”. The eight moral traits particularly relevant to SI are Justice, Moderation, Courage, Generosity,Honesty, Good Temper, Friendliness or Compassion, and Self-Control or Perseverance. Most of these areeasily recognizable from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics , but in a Neo-Aristotelian framework,informed by generations of continued moral enquiry in that tradition, and in a contemporary settingunderstandably unanticipated by Aristotle or even many of his later commentators, the forms they takewill go beyond what we find in that text or in other classic texts of Virtue Ethics. If we complete these(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 7
  8. 8. moral virtues by adding the closely connected intellectual virtue of phronesis or practical wisdom, wechart out the broad outlines of a moral dimension developed and embodied in skills and dispositions,one which in practice intersects with the other such dispositions we tend to focus on much more. Wemust do more than merely name or identify the virtues, however. We need to analyze and understandthem, particularly in the form they would take for an SI leader. What is justice? At bottom, it is a habitual disposition to give and take rightly, to give to otherswhat is their due, what they deserve, what one ought to give them, and to take from them or fromcommon resources one’s fair share. Oftentimes the specific shape of justice can be specified to someextent by laws, guidelines, contracts, agreements, but these as we all know are only one aspect of justice.One can do what one has agreed to do, following the letter and subverting the spirit of an agreement.What we tend to denote by the term “work ethic” is in large part a matter of justice, giving a fair amountof diligent and competent work for a fair amount of compensation. Justice also involves treating peoplefairly in relation to each other, distributing resources in a balanced rather than preferential manner.So, a just SI leader would apportion their time and energy more or less evenly among the students whocome to them, needing assistance, and would do so recognizing that to be the right thing to do, thatwhich conduces most towards the flourishing of others. Moderation (also called Temperance) as a virtue pertains to the uses we make of and the valuewe assign to bodily pleasures. This virtue is less likely to be practiced within the context of SI sessionswhen SI leaders meet with and assist students, and much more likely to bear upon the time devoted topreparation outside of class and sessions. As I think all of us remember from our college educations,some of the most problematic distractions which end up consuming the time and attention studentsneed to devote to study tend to be various bodily pleasures, many the exact sorts Aristotle himself wroteabout in his own time: the pleasures of eating, drinking, and having or at least pursuing sex.Temperance does not mean complete abstention from such pleasures, but enjoying them to the rightdegree, at the right time, in the right ways, and for a student as well as for an instructor, this means insuch ways as to not interfere with or even cut into the time and energy needed for focusing on one’smain tasks. The sorts of pleasures I think are most likely to present problems, and which a temperate SIleader will enjoy but in moderation, will be other types, like watching television, various internetactivities including social media, and other types of face-to-face socializing.(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 8
  9. 9. Courage is an interesting, and often misunderstood virtue, and one that is needed in a variety ofways both for instructors and for students, ways differing greatly from the battlefield paradigmsAristotle understandably focused on and from the common and typically unreflected-upon tropes ofour own late modern culture, particularly that of education. Courage consists in feeling and actingwith the right amounts of confidence and fear, those appropriate to the object of threat or fear and tothe situation. The development of courage is needed in teaching as it is in any field where one has to getup in front of people, speak, interact, with an audience at first often entirely unconvinced of the value,sometimes, even of the truth of what one is teaching. For many SI leaders, this is their first time doingthis sort of authoritative, responsible public speaking, particularly as a practice sustained over an entiresemester. Maintaining classroom discipline, setting and enforcing needed boundaries, resistingattempts by some students to subvert the educational situation, sticking up for oneself and one’s subject,these require courage. “Taking risks” being “innovative” may require courage, but often in fact don’t,particularly in situations where those have become buzz-words, whereas guiding students week byweek on the long march through a course curriculum, as a peer-guide just somewhat more advanced ingrasp of the subject, often does. Generosity, or, to use the term more often used in translating Aristotle’s eleutheria, Liberalitywas originally conceived in terms of giving and taking of wealth, money, property, and the like.Another resource which one has to spend on others, however, is time, and the generous person spendsor gives time in a reasonable way that goes beyond what justice demands. In our society, we often speakof giving 110%, or praise people for giving of their time lavishly, but that sort of indiscriminate givingmight actually be more reflective of one vice opposed to Generosity than expressive of that virtue,which involves giving to the right people, the right amount, on the right occasions, and – this is verycritical – for the right reasons, with the right ends in mind. If the purpose of the extra time given is tofurther education, to aid students who are clearly struggling but also clearly committed to learning, thataligns with Generosity’s demands. Aristotle actually notes a dynamic involved in poor moneymanagement that will apply equally to time management: if one gives too much, indiscriminately, thegiver will in fact not have enough and find themselves forced to take from somewhere else, introducingfurther imbalances. Honesty is an important trait, about which we need to make a distinction, since there are severalsenses of honesty desirable in an SI leader. Clearly needed is what we might call honesty in theepistemological sense, saying that things are as they are, not saying they are as they are not, for instance(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 9
  10. 10. telling typically underprepared students who have not looked at the syllabus what precisely theirinstructor will be grading them on, not telling students that something will be on a test and thereforemust be studied when one knows that the item will in fact not be on the test. Another sense of honestywhich is somewhat underdeveloped in Aristotle’s work but which later Virtue Ethicists have examinedand discussed is Honesty about oneself in relation to other people, specifically about one’s qualities orachievements. SI leaders are selected precisely because of certain good qualities they have displayed inpractice, including their academic achievements, intelligence, and the sorts of moral qualities we are inprocess of discussing here. One of those traits is having and exhibiting a proper perspective on thosevery qualities, avoiding extremes of pridefulness or arrogance on the one hand, or false humility or self-deprecation on the other. One advantage SI leaders can have in reaching and helping students residesprecisely in their status as peers who are also instructors and to some extent offer an encouragingmodel to their fellow students, and this requires a consistent self-assessment, particularly in relation toone’s mastery of the course material, conveyed to one’s fellow students, honestly admitting what onedoes know, what one does not know and needs to study further, or what one knows in part but is stillnot entirely confident about. Good Temper or Patience is a needed virtue as well. Frustration, annoyance, and anger both onstudents’ and on instructors’ parts are common emotional reactions in and out of the classroom, forunderstandable reasons, not the least of which is that in the process of education, students are beingchallenged, not just spoon-fed or coddled. Failing at tasks or in understanding concepts, and theattendant negative emotions naturally provoked, are not only a frequent occurrence for students, butsometimes precisely what is needed in order to eventually make progress. We can add to this that manytopics addressed are controversial and that a typical emotional reaction to views one does not hold oragree with is anger. Students’ lack of preparedness, attitudes of entitlement or lack of motivation,rudeness or disrespect, not only arising in class but also in SI sessions, can understandably evoke angeron the part of SI leaders, instructors, even well-prepared and motivated students in a class. Otherpeople’s expressions of anger, say for instance that of students, can even arouse anger in those who feelthey are being unfairly targeted. The typical manners in which anger manifests and the ways it altersthe angry person’s assessment of the situation, persons, matters being studied, or discussed can easilyinterfere with the processes of education, and are difficult to deal with precisely because anger arisesout of perceptions that one has been or is being wronged, and that one’s reactions are right. Still, thereare situations in which one ought to get angry, even when expression of anger provokes reconsiderationand growth on the part of the one with whom another gets angry. Determining when, how, how much,(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 10
  11. 11. at whom, and for what reasons one ought to be angry, is as Aristotle famously said, a quote with whichDaniel Goleman started his book Emotional intelligence, difficult, and requires cultivation of that virtue. Another needed virtue, which Aristotle deals with in terms of Friendship or Friendliness, butwhich we might also term Compassion or Benevolence, has to do with our attitude of good-will towardsother people, expressed in the structure of our desires and actions, a habitual, characteristic desire ofgood for the other, for the sake of the other person and not for oneself. This is a central feature ofAristotle’s treatment of friendship. The friendly person exhibits this attitude towards others to the rightdegree, in the right ways, towards the right people, not indiscriminately, not in a flattering orobsequious way, perhaps not in every case displayed immediately. It is displayed in action as well asattitude. Interestingly, Aristotle also speaks about this quality of good-will, eunomia, in other contexts.It is, along with good moral character and knowledge or good sense, one of the most important things inrendering a speaker persuasive to an audience, which senses that the speaker actually does care abouttheir well-being. He also notes that persuasion is involved in all teaching. What are the goods for theother with which one would be concerned? In the case of education, of teaching and learning, it isacquisition of knowledge and understanding. The virtuous SI leader will desire these goods for theirfellow students, and consistently convey and further that desire in action and attitude towards them. Self-Control is not itself a virtue in Aristotle’s view, not least because it is not a mean statebetween two (or more) vicious extremes. A sort of habitual or dispositional structure or dynamic maybe and typically is involved in Self-Control, but it might be better to think of it not as a virtue per se as acondition for the development of virtues. One index of this is that the Self-Controlled person, like thevirtuous person, recognizes and does what is right or good, what they recognize the relevant virtue torequire of themselves or of anyone else in that situation, but they have to make themselves act inaccordance with virtue. They have to exercise what we often call will-power, make a choice at timesagainst their own inclinations or other desires, and while they may feel a sense of satisfaction in briningthemselves to do the good or right thing, even in their own making progress in that area, they don’t feelthe sort of pleasure a virtuous person does in the same action. For instance, a genuinely moderateperson would feel pleasure in taking the right amount of food at meals, while a self-controlled personwould take the right amount, recognizing that to be good for them, but would feel pained at not takingmore (and perhaps also some pain at not being where they would like to be). An SI leader, in order tobe effective, will need Self-Control, which can also be called Perseverance, the condition of sticking to(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 11
  12. 12. willing what one recognizes correctly as being good or right, appropriate or needed, in order toprogress towards fuller acquisition, more complete assimilation, of the good or goods involved. Now we need to think about how SI leaders are to identify, understand, practice, and developthese various desirable moral qualities. One answer is that they will have to do so the same way asanybody else does, so how do people in general develop virtues? Both intellectual virtues and moralvirtues are products not only of teaching, of progressively acquiring, building, and synthesizingknowledge as information, but also through practice, through acting, feeling, choosing in determinatesituations. But in the case of moral virtues, practice plays a much more central, in fact indispensiblerole. We become just, Aristotle reminds us, by behaving justly over and over again, until with time andrepetition, it becomes a habitual thread woven into the fabric of our character, the composite outcomeof myriad choices now sedimented and settled into a characteristic way of being. One can read all thetreatises in moral philosophy one likes, all of the praises of virtuous dispositions and people, but unlessone actually chooses and does actions in accordance with virtue, such knowledge will remaininoperative, even deceptively seducing the person into thinking that because they have some intellectualgrasp of virtue, they possess virtue. A significant dimension of the knowledge of virtue cannot becommunicated in a solely intellectual manner, but must be grasped , acquired, deepened, widenedexperientially. That said, as educators, we know that if we want students to be able to do something, if we wantthem to acquire deep structures of skills and dispositions, we do have to not only provide them withmodels and occasions to practice, we actually do have to provide them with instruction. One can andsome people do become virtuous through happy coincidence of a good upbringing requiring them topractice and develop virtues as habits in a more or less unthinking way. That is rather rare in ourcontemporary society and culture, which actually presents its members with contradictory anoversimplified moral messages, facsimiles and simulacra of virtues, even glorifications of or incentivestowards vice, so what the student will realistically require in order to make progress towards virtue willbe assistance in understanding precisely what virtue is. How does all of this play out specifically in the situation of SI leaders? What else is needed forthem to develop or to at least recognize the need for and make reasonable progress towards the virtuouscharacters that will not only be a key constituent in their own pursuit of the good life, of flourishing intheir own careers, but also make them effective as SI leaders for their fellow students? There’s a clue in(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 12
  13. 13. Aristotle’s dictum that in order to lead well, one must have also learned to follow well, to take direction,to do what is asked of one, to understand, then meet and then exceed expectations reasonably placedupon one. In order for this to occur, they must not only have followed well, they must have been ledwell, and insofar as they remain students, they must not only continue to follow well, to learn, they mustalso continue to be led well, to be taught. And, this falls upon the instructor. An SI leader might wellrealize that a certain virtue is important and necessary for good teaching and learning to occurprecisely by observing the effects of its absence in their instructor, a lack of Good Temper for example,manifesting in berating students when provoked and digressing into tirades about lack of preparationwhich do nothing to motivate students towards better preparedness. But, this is unlikely, and merelylearning not to do something tells the learner relatively little about what one ought to do instead, whatthat would look like. When it comes down to it, if indeed virtues are needed by SI leaders, instructorswill have to take on the task of instructing them and guiding them, and this in turn will require thatinstructors themselves, if not virtuous, be at least on the way to virtue and have an adequatelydeveloped degree of knowledge of what virtue is, what the virtues are, and what the virtues dictate.Abstract: My presentation will focus on identifying, understanding, and cultivating batches of associated skillsand dispositions desirable and needed if SI leaders are to perform their functions well, and if instructors are toeffectively integrate SI leaders into their courses. These sets of skills and dispositions are termed intellectual andmoral virtues in classical (particularly Aristotelian) Moral Philosophy, upon whose resources I will be drawing toilluminate topics in my presentation. I will also be drawing on my three year experience of full-time teachingCore courses and employing SI leaders at Fayetteville State University, which included some successes and alsosome failures with SI.In the course of my presentation, I will introduce the participants to some of the rudiments of classical moraltheory, discuss what intellectual and moral virtues are and how they are cultivated, identify which virtues areparticularly needed by SI leaders and instructors and how they may be thoughtfully cultivated and progressivelybuilt. I will also provide participants with take-away resources to assist them in further study of the mattersdiscussed.(Draft: not to be quoted from or reproduced without permission of author. Copyright Gregory B. Sadler, 2011) 13

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