Educating the Heart
Over the Mind
Have you ever known anyone who was
really smart, but really mean?
Were there kids in your school who
always let you know when they had finished their math test and you hadn't . . .
or got an "A" when you got a "C" . . . or ridiculed you on the playground?
Have you been reading about
scientists who are arrogant beyond belief in their self-centered approach to
ethical concerns the rest of us may have about research on human embryos,
cloning and the like? We think they're heartless, and they think we're stupid?
That's why we have character
education, at home and at school. It won't do us much good to make people smart
and highly-skilled if they're impossible to work with, live with, or even like.
What good is it to be smart if you're dishonest, greedy, immoral and uncaring?
That's not saying that training in
handling emotions and feelings are the job of school more than delivering academics;
of course, they aren't. But if someone's heart is not in the right place, it
doesn't matter where the brain may land that person among standardized test
scores. So it's the job of both home and school to educate the heart as well as
This has been a fact of life, and a
challenge to teachers, throughout human history. One of America's first
teachers said it very well in establishing that character education is even
more important than the 3 R's:
virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities;
this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity* than the head.
-- Noah Webster, On the Education
of Youth in America, 1788
assuiduity: diligent effort
By Susan Darst Williams • www.GoBigEd.com • Heart Lessons
042 • © 2007