Home' Independence : Independence Vol 40 No 1 May 2015 Contents VOL 40 NO 1 MAY 2015 INDEPENDENCE 71
HOW TO FOSTER THE FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES
ESSENTIAL NEURAL BASES
SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR HOME AND SCHOOL
control) is the habit of
choosing well the things
we wish to enjoy.
Temperance is effectively a healthy
conditioning in our expectations for
sense-based rewards, inculcated
either in our upbringing or by one’s
Foster pleasure in what is good, true and beautiful by exposing children early to enriched
Model the capacity to direct attention to what is good for us, and to say no to wayward desires for
excess or emotional outbursts.
Help children develop the habit of choosing what they pay attention to.
Say no as often as needed, but calmly and affectionately. By learning to obey their parents and
teachers, young people learn to obey their own reason.
Model detachment from material things.
Parents should offer ongoing, personal, sex and relationships education backed up by their own
example of dedication to each other.
Don’t appease tantrums.
Fortitude (courage) is
the habit of overcoming
fears and discomfort for
a good reason.
Fortitude is a conditioning of our
fear responses so that they are
neither paralysing nor creating
underperformance. This involves rich
fear dampening connectivity between
amygdala and specific areas of the
Model the patience and resilience that are implicit characteristics of fortitude.
Teach children not to be afraid of challenges and difficulties; build a culture of ‘having another go’.
Model optimism and faith.
Foster a healthy hardiness, characterised by physical resilience and a refusal to feel sorry for oneself.
Work is a school of fortitude. Insist calmly on duty before play. Jobs and timetables create a simple
structure where children can learn to demand of themselves.
Justice (respect for
others) is the habit of
always taking the rights
and needs of others into
account in our actions.
Justice features rich cortical
deliberation about the consequences
towards others for our intended
actions. Memory of past experience
as well as the reward circuitry
triggered by the joy of serving
others are implicated. Attentional
systems have been conditioned to
preferentially attend to others.
Build a culture of kindness in the family and in the classroom.
Teach children to pay attention to others, and that we must measure each of our actions by the
impact it has on others. For example, teach that we always clean up our own mess, and never
criticise others gratuitously.
Teach generosity and compassion with guided practice. Teach that a habit that delivers love to
others is a virtue.
Teach that people are more important than things.
Foster a spirit of gratitude.
Foster wonder! We are not the centre of the universe.
Ensure children experience the joy of serving others.
Teach that cheerfulness is the bridge to friendships and relationships.
judgement) is the habit
of setting goals that
are good for us and
achievable. It is the
capacity for critical
evaluation of situations
according to one’s
understanding of what
is right and wrong.
Prudence is characterised
by cortical goal assessment
and election, informed by the
previous three predispositions.
It also features the capacity for
deliberation about means to
achieve these goals.
Teach ‘Rational Psychology 101’. Our head guides our emotional life. Ensure each child has an
understanding of the power of emotion to enrich or derail our lives.
Teach that every choice, every decision changes us for better or worse. Teach the importance of
habits and how to build them.
Teach the skills of goal setting, prioritising and planning. Practice builds new pathways.
Ask a child’s opinions. Allow choices and then debrief to teach the skills of wise choice making.
Correct mistakes calmly. Be patient; keep explaining the problem so that a child develops the
facility for critical judgement.
Address negative patterns of behaviour early.
Insist on sincerity with oneself and with others.
Teach young people how to remake bad habits through convictions and specific plans of action.
Convictions trump past habits. Refocused attention trumps old habits. Goals trump impulses.
Talk often and deeply. Schedule time weekly.
Teach right and wrong.
Teach humility and self efficacy, which is well-founded confidence in one’s abilities.
Foster time for reflection.
Model the peace of heart and joy which derives from the state of virtue.
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