If you are educating your own or other people’s children classically, then you desire to instruct them towards virtue. That sounds like a philosophical concept that isn’t very tangible to our lives in practice. However, there are practices and aims that will take your students towards virtue.
James K. A. Smith, in his book “You Are What You Love”, talks about how humans are teleological creatures, that is; that we are oriented toward a “goal” or an end. It is our loves that orient us toward that ultimate end or telos. When we talk about virtue formation, we are talking about orienting our students towards the telos or goal of virtue. We are oriented by our longing and directed by our desires.
Simply put, virtues are good moral habits. They are bound up in the sense of excellence; good habits that takes us toward what is best for us. They culminate into character. I tell my students that character is the part of your insides that we can see on the outside.
Education in virtue is a kind of formation, a retraining of our dispositions. “Learning” virtue – becoming virtuous – is more like practicing scales on the piano than learning music theory: the goal is, in a sense, for your fingers to learn the scales so they can play “naturally”. Learning isn’t just information acquisition; it’s more like inscribing something into the very fiber of your being. Continue reading here.