Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles has announced grants totaling more than $1 million from the John Templeton Foundation to support research being conducted by Jason Baehr, an associate professor of philosophy.
An expert in the field of virtue theory, Baehr believes that teaching so-called intellectual virtues — curiosity, wonder, creativity, open-mindedness, attentiveness, intellectual tenacity — should be a central focus of education.
In the first phase of his Intellectual Virtues Education Project, a grant of $429,000 will be used to convene leading scholars in the fields of educational theory, the philosophy of education, psychology, and virtue epistemology for a series of workshops and seminars aimed at developing the country's first intellectual virtues-based educational model. After a curriculum is developed, fifteen junior high and high school teachers and administrators in the Los Angeles area will be trained in the model. In the second phase of the project, $621,000 will be used to implement the intellectual virtues curriculum in a new charter school for students in grades 6-8.
"I think there's a general sense that the present focus on high-stakes, standardized testing and the 'teaching to the test' that inevitably ensues has led to a depersonalization of the learning process," said Baehr. "A focus on intellectual virtues provides an antidote to this. It allows teachers to develop their students' relationship to learning. It also provides a framework for understanding and achieving a number of familiar educational goals, like fostering a 'love of learning' and making students into 'critical thinkers' or 'lifelong learners.' "