Character Education
September 16, 2011, 12:49 AM
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A reader writes:
I was thinking, "What character trait/life skill would I make most important to instill, if I ran the educational zoo?" 
My own kids went through school when `self-esteem` was ridiculously stressed. And we see its effects everywhere. 
But how about this one as a primary guide:  teach them `How to learn from your mistakes`
Lots of goodness would come from this emphasis, I think. 
It obviates the whole (fragile, they think)  `self-esteem` concern, because it teaches that it is not BAD to make mistakes  
(EVERYONE makes them - don`t feel bad about it),   only bad to not learn from them 
It springboards into teaching the Scientific Method, logic, rational thinking, problem solving, Deming Quality Control, etc. 
It teaches humbleness, appreciation for other ways of doing things, etc. 
And, it helps one to make the best of whatever genetic cards one has been dealt. 
It sure seems that it is NOT even on the radar screen these days. BHO the prime example.
Along these lines, I would encourage intellectuals to try to subscribe to a form of vulgar Hegelianism in their personal intellectual behavior that I`ve found very useful. 
If you hold a thesis for what seem like good reasons, and somebody counters with a well-argued antithesis, you have several options:
  • Reject the antithesis (the most common)
  • Convert to the antithesis (the most dramatic)
  • Look for a synthesis that makes sense of both your thesis and the other guy`s antithesis (usually, the hardest but most profitable)

For example:

Thesis: A racial group is a taxonomical subspecies.

Antithesis: A racial group is a biologically nonexistent social construct!

Synthesis: A racial group is a partly inbred extended family.