Character, the true goal

March 17, 2011

You get about 75,000 hits at present if you Google “Grant Hill Jalen Rose.”  All of those take you to Grant Hill’s response to Jalen Rose.  In a made-for-ESPN movie about (Michigan’s) “The Fab Five,”  Rose, the show’s executive producer, stated that Duke recruited only black players he considered to be “Uncle Toms.”  Hill, who was a Duke star while Rose played at Michigan (as one of the Fab 5) and who is now an NBA star, posted a response on The Quad, a New York Times sports blog.

Rose’s remark was ugly and thoughtless; Hill’s response is thoughtful, a wise reflection on race, sports and education in America.  But I was especially struck by this passage in Hill’s response:

Ad ingenium faciendum, toward the building of character, is a phrase I recently heard. To me, it is the essence of an educational experience. Struggling, succeeding, trying again and having fun within a nurturing but competitive environment built character in all of us, including every black graduate of Duke.”

Toward the building of character:  that should be the goal of every serious educational institution.  It caught my attention because here it is being lifted up in the midst of a discussion of athletics.  Again, it is a voicing of the argument that participation in sports builds character that I’ve discussed before here and here.

But it’s on my mind this morning because this view that character development is the essential goal is rarely articulated when we are discussing the nexus between education and economic development, or considering whether and why we need to provide a college education for everyone.

So I think that’s another reason I especially liked Chris Hardie’s “5 Business Values I learned Via Earlham College.”  Note how much he puts the emphasis squarely opn character.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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