Evidence That It Works
“Practical wisdom”—or “good sense”—is the modern-day scientific term for Aristotle’s phronesis. According to the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, practical wisdom is “the overall quality of knowing what to want and what not to want when the demands of two or more virtues collide, and to integrate such demands into an acceptable course of action.”
In other words, practical wisdom helps us to know and do the good, especially when faced with a moral dilemma. This virtue is developed mainly through experience and reflection, and is considered the overarching virtue because of its role in helping us to know how and when to enact all the other virtues.
In general, no agreed-upon definition for wisdom exists in research, and little empirical research has been done on it. However, some researchers suggest that the central components of wisdom are cognitive (e.g., evaluating, deliberating, foresight), emotional, and reflective—all of which can be taught and potentially measured.
Why Does It Matter?
Currently, education focuses primarily on developing students’ thinking skills and knowledge. Yet, as many adults attest, little of what is learned in school actually prepares a person for the school called “life.”
By taking on the challenge of developing students’ wisdom or “good sense,” educators will be equipping students with the skills that will help them to cultivate lives of meaning, happiness, and virtue dedicated to serving the greater good–a flourishing life, indeed.