Listening: A Virtue Account

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 112, Number 11,( 2010), p. 2-3.

Background Context
Despite its significance for learning, listening has received very little attention in the philosophy of education literature. This article draws on the philosophy and educational thought of Aristotle to illuminate characteristics of good listening. The current project is exploratory and preliminary, seeking mainly to suggest what a virtues orientation might offer in terms of understanding and fostering good listing in educational contexts.


This paper examines how listening in educational contexts may be understood when examined through an Aristotelian lens. Virtue ethics provides a systematic orientation for the analysis of a familiar but underanalyzed phenomenon: good listening.


It is possible to identify characteristics of good listening, and at least some of these would almost certainly be counted among the virtues by many working within an Aristotelian framework. The authors have mentioned a few already patience, tolerance, humility, and various intellectual virtues. The authors’ aim is to give some sense of how virtue ethics can inform thinking about listening.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2010