Thursday, 25 January 2007

Educating in the Virtues 2

Here’s our strategy: show and tell.

It really is that simple, and that difficult. That is to say, we try to demonstrate the virtues in the way we live our lives, so that when we discuss them with the children, they recognise them in practice and see that we really believe in them.

The great benefit of this approach is that it forces us to think very carefully about the virtues we would wish our children to demonstrate - and then live by them ourselves.

A few examples may help.

With all the current furore over gay rights versus the rights of conscience of Christians who actually believe in the Bible and the traditional teachings of the Church, we have been talking to Ant and Bernie about these issues. We want them to be quite clear that one can believe a homosexual lifestyle is wrong, without being prejudiced against homosexual people. It really helps that we are able to point to the fact that when a homosexual friend of ours was in a terrible state as his partner had been sent to jail for possessing pornographic images of children, we invited him to dinner on a weekly basis. He was and is a good friend: we still disapprove of his lifestyle and believe it to be bad for him and his (now ex-)partner.

Likewise, when we come to discuss the importance of love in the most practical sense, they will know that for years we have been supporting children in India.

And so on. That means that the virtue, when discussed, reveals to them something they already know from experience is very important. It also means we have to work hard to pursue in practice those virtues which we are quick to pay lipservice to!

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