1st Edition

Educating Character Through the Arts

Edited By Laura D'Olimpio, Panos Paris, Aidan P. Thompson Copyright 2023
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume investigates the role of the arts in character education. Bringing together insights from esteemed philosophers and educationalists, it looks to the arts for insight into human character and explores the arts’ relationship to human flourishing and the development of the virtues.

    Focusing on the moral value of art and considering questions of whether there can be educational value in imaginative and non-narrative art, the nine chapters herein critically examine whether poetry, music, literature, films, television series, videogames, and even gardening may improve our understanding of human character, sharpen our moral judgement, inculcate or refine certain skills required for virtue, or perhaps cultivate certain virtues (or vices) themselves.

    Bringing together research on aesthetics, ethics, moral and character education, this book will appeal to students, researchers and academics of philosophy, arts, and education as well as philosophers of education, morality, aesthetics, and teachers of the arts.

    Introduction Laura D'Olimpio, Panos Paris, and Aidan P. Thompson 1. Is the Ethos Theory of Music Correct? James O. Young  2. The Uses of Poetry and Other Imaginative Literature for the Education of Virtuous Sentiment and Character David Carr  3. Literature, the Emotions, and Learning Noël Carroll  4. Literary Appreciation and the Reconfiguration of Understanding Jeremy Page  5. Heroines and Sexy Victims: What We Learn from Female Protagonists Laura D'Olimpio  6. Virtue and Vice on TV: Television Series and Ethical Reflection Panos Paris  7. Are You (Relevantly) Experienced? A Moral Argument for Video Games Amanda Cawston and Nathan Wildman  8. Gardens and the Good Life in Confucianism and Daoism Ian James Kidd  9. Educating the Heart: Why Poetry Matters Karen E. Bohlin Afterword John Haldane


    Laura D’Olimpio is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Birmingham, UK.

    Panos Paris is Lecturer in Philosophy at Cardiff University, UK.

    Aidan P. Thompson is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, UK.

    Can the arts teach us to be better people? The question has been an important one in philosophy since the time of the Ancient Greeks. In this collection of papers, a group of philosophers and educationalists return a broadly affirmative answer to it. Drawing on the resources of contemporary virtue theory and current psychology, the collection also engages with a dazingly wide array of artforms and examples, from Emma to The Sopranos, and from videogames to gardens. Anyone interested in whether the arts can morally educate us should read this excellent anthology, and will learn much from it.

    Berys Gaut, Professor of Philosophy, University of St Andrews, Scotland.


    At a time generally considered challenging for even the firmest moral compasses, this inter-disciplinary collection offers an important set of carefully crafted proposals about how ethics, aesthetics and character education interconnect. These stimulating and engaging essays provide philosophers, educators and other readers looking to immerse themselves in the question of how the arts can contribute to the education of moral character with an invaluable and nuanced guide through difficult yet crucial terrain.

    Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann, Chair Professor of Aesthetics, Uppsala University, Sweden


    Educating Character Through the Arts brings together the fields of aesthetics, ethics, and education in new and interesting ways. Its very accessible essays range over such diverse and, in some cases, unexpected art forms as film, music, long-form television series, literature, poetry, video games, and gardening, exploring how these art forms can contribute to both people’s ethical understanding and character development. In addition, many of the contributions address pedagogy, focusing on how to use art works in the classroom to address ethical issues. This innovative and fascinating volume will be of interest to philosophers of art, moral philosophers, and teachers, among others. It makes an important contribution to an area that deserves more attention that it has previously received.

    Thomas E. Wartenberg, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Mount Holyoke College, USA 


    When looking at the table of contents, this book may seem to contain an eclectic mixture of topics – ranging from poetry and music to video games, TV series to gardens – that have very little in common. However, on closer inspection, there are clear characterological and pedagogical threads running through the volume. It explores the role of the aesthetic impulse in the development of good character and how different forms of art contribute to human flourishing. This book comes closer than any previous publication to offering a comprehensive overview of how character is – and can further be – developed through engagement with the arts.

    Kristján Kristjánsson, Professor of Character Education and Virtue Ethics, University of Birmingham, UK

    Those who seek to educate for character at any level -- elementary school, middle school, secondary school, or university -- often puzzle about how best to do this.  This interesting collection of essays brings together a range of perspectives on how to educate for character through the arts, where 'arts' includes not only poetry, music, and literature, but also films, television, and even gardens.  This creative approach to which arts are used in character education and how they can be impactful shines new light on an issue of paramount importance for our day and age.  

    Nancy E. Snow, Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, The University of Oklahoma