Teaching Character Development in the Classroom

As a teacher, a common question raised is how to attest to each individual student in the classroom with different skills, way of learning, and talents. Theories from all over the globe have been on the rise in order to try to address this issue. One mainstream theory that has yet to be perfected, is “Grit.”

Grit stands for Guts, Resilience, Independence, and Tenacity. While GRIT may work for some students, we want to take a look at some other options to facilitate character development in the classroom are and why is teaching character still important?

Easy Answers & Infancy

Grit is often seen as a “magic bullet.” The article, Yes We Should Teach Character by David Goobler, discusses the fact that pushing one characteristic as the secret to a student’s success says more about the culture’s love for easy answers than it does about the way student’s actually experience their education. The theory of Grit has been based merely off a handful of student’s feedback, which makes it difficult to practice in schools around the globe.

If you are among those who do not see the integrity in GRIT, and as a teacher find yourself wondering how to improve your students character look no further. Jason Baehr’s intellectual virtues argues that there are nine core virtues we should be looking for in our students: curiosity, intellectual humility, intellectual autonomy, attentiveness, intellectual carefulness, intellectual thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity.

“Intellectual virtues differ from moral virtues in that these traits are that of a good thinker.” -Jason Baeher


Intellectual virtue is said to make up the character of a good thinker, more useful and applicable to students from all over the word. Specific ways to teach these virtues are direct instruction, instructor modeling, and opportunities for students to practice these virtues.

Tips for Practicing Intellectual Virtue in the Classroom

As a teacher looking to enlighten intellectual virtue in the classroom, it is important to list the specific virtues that you want to promote.

Following this, when designing course plans for the year seek ways for students to exercise these habits of mind. It is important to have your students understand what intellectual virtues are and make them aware of this concept.

Each virtue has a certain characteristic activity. For example, curiosity involves asking thoughtful and insightful questions. Intellectual humility involves being aware of intellectual limitations. An approach that is important to keep in mind when understanding this topic is the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Working on intellectual virtues will leave a lasting impact on students.

Education is more than just teaching and learning. Strong intellectual virtue can open the door for many new learning opportunities. Intellectual virtue is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding your students.

At Yes Futures, we believe character education is important. We have found students with higher levels of confidence, resilience, communication, and self awareness have a better opportunity to succeed in and outside the classroom. This is why we’ve developed our own Character Work Scheme for you to use at home or in the classroom!

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