The Epistemic virtues of a teacher
The overlap between virtue epistemology and the philosophy of education has been dominated by discussions of the epistemic qualities of good learners, that is, the epistemic virtues that must be nurtured in students. Not much has been said about the epistemic qualities of good teachers expressed in virtue-theoretic terms. In this thesis, I provide two accounts of what we can call “pedagogical virtues,” the epistemic excellences of the teacher insofar as she is a teacher, and not just a generic epistemic agent. In Part I, I focus on pedagogical virtues aimed towards the students’ knowledge acquisition. I propose a preliminary account based on both Battaly’s pluralist notion of intellectual virtues and Kawall’s concept of other-regarding epistemic virtues. I then give some examples of how pedagogical virtues under this account differ from mainstream intellectual virtues. I also confront the challenge of epistemic situationism which threatens virtue epistemology in general, and to the extent that it could threaten this account. From this defense, I give additional examples of pedagogical virtues that arise from the situationist problem. In Part II, I turn to intellectual character education where intellectual virtues are cultivated in students. Here I discuss the epistemic virtues of an excellent intellectual-character educator. I do this by going through the different components of teaching intellectual virtues, and naming the pedagogical virtues of the teacher that helps her students grow in their intellectual virtue. I also answer questions such as: to what extent can we expect a teacher to be a model of intellectual virtue to her students? From these accounts of pedagogical virtues, I hope to motivate the development of the teacher’s intellectual character as an approach to improving student learning.