MTR and Character
On March 2, James Q. Wilson died at the age of 80. He was He was the co-author of the 1982 “Broken Windows” study. In addition to this important study, he was also a huge proponent of the role of CHARACTER in improving the health of a person, school and community. His book, The Moral Sense, is his most important work on this topic.
For the record, we completely concur. At the MTR, we propose a philosophy of Christian Community Education. One tenant is that our teachers must be not only great instructors, but great people. Character matters a great deal. We will not be individual teaching silos hidden behind the walls of our classrooms. We will be healthy, positive, optimistic owners of school culture and life-giving blessings to our administration, students and their families.
See excerpts below from today’s (March 6, 2012) editorial in the New York Times on James Q. Wilson, written by David Brooks.
The obituaries for James Q. Wilson, the
eminent social scientist, generally emphasized his “broken windows” theory on
how to reduce crime. That’s natural. This strategy, which contributed to the
recent reduction in crime rates, was his most tangible legacy.
But broken windows was only a small
piece of what Wilson contributed, and he did not consider it the center of his
The best way to understand the core Wilson is by borrowing the title of
one of his essays: “The Rediscovery of Character.”
Wilson wrote about character and virtue, he didn’t mean anything high flown or
theocratic. It was just the basics, befitting a man who grew up in the
middle-class suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1940s: Behave in a balanced way.
Think about the long-term consequences of your actions. Cooperate. Be decent.
did not believe that virtue was inculcated by prayer in schools. It was
habituated by practicing good manners, by being dependable, punctual and
responsible day by day.
was not a philosopher. He was a social scientist. He just understood that
people are moral judgers and moral actors, and he reintegrated the vocabulary
of character into discussions of everyday life.