Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wisdom & Morals

Synchronocity continues to occur! The latest TED video I just watched directly reflects on my yesterday's blog on "Regulate or De-regulate" plus a number of other sympathetic thoughts we share. Barry Schwartz's 20 minute talk covers a range of important observations and principles that I've been working on and concerned about for years:

  • practical wisdom, that can't be prescribed by job descriptions (reminding me of Total Quality Management and the Ritz-Carlton's example of quality service by all their associates);
  • bureaucratic rules and incentives vs. moral skill (expanding on my regulate/de-regulate quandry);
  • rigid rules (like school curricula), that prevent disaster, but ensure mediocracy;
  • community responsibilities vs. individual interests.
His answer is to re-moralize work, not through more ethics courses, but by identifying and celebrating moral heroes, being the examples of the ordinary heroes we need, and embodying the character and virtues we want our kids to develop.

It's certainly heartening to hear such views after working with some state education leaders, at least one of whom said she couldn't even mention the words "character education" lest she be accused of being a communist!


  1. The core of the whole capitalist system is to maximize the profits or self-interests. To place the morality (or to do what is right) on top of that, we might need a revolution, or a fundamental change of the system at least. The Scandinavian countries' Democratic Socialist system is perhaps a model of a society with higher moral standard than what we have here in the US.

  2. High moral standard? If if remember right, they spend a lot for single mothers. If they have high moral standard, why so many single mothers?