Dispositions as Virtues: The Complexity of the Construct

Jun. 03, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 60 Number 3, p. 291-303 (May/June 2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article illuminates the value of conceptualizing the desirable dispositions of the teacher as virtues through distinguishing such dispositions-as-virtues from other dispositions and from personality traits. Dispositions as virtues are qualities achieved by the individual’s initiative,
in the face of obstacles, and are intrinsically motivated. The complexity of any construct for
student assessment is illustrated through distinguishing educational goals from teacher dispositions, specifically social justice.

The article also describes dispositions under the three categories of character, intellect, and care. The categories frequently overlap, and the following list is intended as indicative not definitive:
(a) Virtues of character include self-knowledge, courage, sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness, and endeavor as including virtues of the will, such as persistence, perseverance, and heed (see Sockett, 1988).
(b) Virtues of intellect include truthfulness, accuracy, consistency (e.g., in the application of rules), fairness and impartiality, especially in making judgments, clarity, thoughtfulness, and open-mindedness.
(c) Virtues of care include tolerance, tact, discretion, civility, receptivity, relatedness, and responsiveness notably in becoming trustworthy and compassionate.
Then, it indicates the complexity of each through self-knowledge, truthfulness, and compassion as exemplars of each category.

Finally, using William Hare’s work on open-mindedness, it is argued that transparent assessment is needed in which criteria are perspicuous to assessor and assessed. Student teachers can then create self-assessment protocols for each disposition-as-virtue to enhance understanding and professional growth.

Hare, W. (1985). In defense of open-mindedness. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: McGill University Press.
Hare, W. (2007). Credibility and credulity: Monitoring teachers for trustworthiness.
Journal of Philosophy of Education, 41(2), 207-221.
Sockett, H. (1988). Education and will: Aspects of personal capability.
American Journal of Education, 92(2), 195-214.
Sockett, H. (Ed.). (2006). Teacher dispositions: Building a teacher education framework of moral standards. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

Updated: Sep. 23, 2009