What are we here for – Knowledge or Character?

in his NY Times column piece, entitled “Reading, Math, and Grit”, Joe Nocera writes about education and essentially asks us to consider education’s role in the formation of noncognitive skills (aka character).

please see : http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/08/opinion/nocera-a-ray-of-hope-in-education.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120908

This made me recall similar thoughts i had some lifetime ago. It made me muse again on what truly mattered and how education played into the service of what was valuable. To cut it to the quick, did i go to school to be smart or did i go to school to grow wise?

Knowledge skills or cognitive information and abilities are, I think, quite explicit and obvious as far as courses and curricula are concerned. Even when i was teaching architecture, much of the topical content in every class was at the level of appropriateness that questioning was not even considered. But a conversation with a professor from Education and the VP for Academic Affairs brought out the discussion of what the knowledge training was for? How do students learn their content and their skills, and then apply it towards something bigger than themselves? How do we instruct and empower them to define their own compass?

I remember being taught an adage of how the smart man knew to listen to only half of what he hears, while the wise man knew which half to listen to. Steering interpretation of that to expand beyond self-interest, how do we integrate a sense of professionalism, a degree of selflessness, an ethic of community engagement into our conduct, our pedagogy, and our curricula?

Molding a response and sculpting out an approach to this question would assuredly influence our actions and reveal what Nocera termed as grit.

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~ by bdytoc on September 8, 2012.

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