I am currently wrestling with a dilemma. I have agreed to contribute to a panel discussion on character education at University College London, and while I generally applaud schools that try to inculcate qualities like perseverance, resilience, the ability to defer gratification, etc, I am not entirely convinced that these virtues can be taught. Should I swallow my scepticism, or gently point out that it’s naive to expect schools to achieve much in this area?
The panel will be discussing an essay in a periodical called Impact in which philosophers write about education policy. This essay by Randall Curren, a professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester, New York, strikes some pleasingly conservative notes. Curren is in favour of teaching British values (democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance) and believes they can be defended both morally and as the most appropriate set of norms for diverse members of a multicultural society to embrace if they want to live peacefully together. (To read more, click here.)