The intellectual virtues approach is deeply personal in the sense that it is about nurturing qualities like curiosity, wonder, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage, and open-mindedness. The ultimate goal of an intellectual virtues education is much richer and more meaningful than, say, the achievement of high scores on standardized tests. In addition, an intellectual virtues approach is academically rigorous. This is because intellectual virtues aim at a deep understanding and wise application of important knowledge. They demand much more than short-term memorization of isolated facts.
The model also provides a way of adding “flesh” to certain familiar, but vague, education ideals such as a love of learning. We believe that to have a genuine love of learning -- or to be a life-long learner -- is to possess a range of these intellectual virtues and others, like reflectiveness, a love of knowledge, intellectual determination, fair-mindedness, creativity, imagination, intellectual honesty, and integrity. What makes this model unique is that it involves exploring these concepts in detail, and making them an explicit and central part of what goes on everyday in the classroom.