, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 345-360
Date: 30 Oct 2012

A Missing Piece of the Contemporary Character Education Puzzle: The Individualisation of Moral Character

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The different sorts of virtuous people who display various virtues to a remarkable degree have brought the issue of individualisation of moral character to the forefront. It signals a more personal dimension of character development which is notoriously ignored in the current discourse on character education. The case is made that since in practice, the individualisation of moral character must, by necessity, advance side by side with the cultivation of virtues, a full account of character education needs to give consideration to both concerns. After analysing the specific ways which temperament, social roles, and occupations respectively contribute to the individualisation of moral character, some practical implications are drawn to shed new light on the common practice of the inculcation of virtues. Firstly, since the varieties of moral personality is the norm, it is appropriate to encourage the educated to become virtuous people of different sorts. Secondly, given the influence that temperament may exert on virtue, having good knowledge of each child’s temperament, identifying the specific difficulties possibly confronting him/her accordingly, and then providing more opportunities to strengthen the cultivation of the related virtues are crucial. Thirdly, since children with different temperaments are inclined to identify with different sorts of moral exemplars, it is valuable to present them a great variety of moral models, from which they can choose the kind of virtuous people they would want to emulate. Lastly, since assuming different occupations and social roles is liable to result in various moral characters, character formation cannot be confined to the family or school. Among others, workplaces and communities are also important variables.