L. Mortari, F. Valbusa, A. Camerella

University of Verona (ITALY)
In order to be effective, educative activities should be structured starting from a significant theoretical background. Our theory of education to virtue ethics is funded on the following theses:
- according to the ethics of care (Noddings, 1994; Held, 1997; Mortari, 2015), acting good means caring for the others;
- in order to caring for the others it is necessary to learn to practice virtues.

On the basis of these premises, we developed an educative project for children of primary school (Mortari & Mazzoni, 2014). The title of the project is “Melarete”: this word has born from the marriage between the Greek terms “meléte”, that means “care”, and “areté”, that means “virtue”.

The educative activities of this project are structured in the light of the following educative principles, which come from the ancient philosophy:
- according to the Aristotelian perspective, in order to learn virtues it is important to practicing them;
- according to the Socratic paideia, to learn means to acquire a clear concept of the things and that occurs through a maieutical discussion.

Coherently with these principles, we organized the following main activities:
- the “basket of the virtues”: it is a game that functions as a stimulus to dialogue with children about the general meaning of the term “virtue” and about the specific meaning of some particular virtues, such as “courage”, “generosity”, and “respect”; the educative reason of this activity is to involve children in a reflection about some key concepts of ethical education;
- the “journal of virtues”: it is a reflective diary, in that children write down once a week one virtuous action they have done in their everyday life; the educative reason of this activity is to offer to children a space of personal reflection: in this way they learn to analyze their own experience;
- the storytelling: a story on a specific virtue becomes the starting point to dialogue with children about some specific elements: the quality of the virtuous action, the thoughts that guide it, its consequences and the emotions of the protagonist; the educative reason of this activity is to involve children in a reflection on the specific virtue which is the object of the story told in class;
- a vignette about an ethical problem: in the vignette are represented three different situations that present three different solutions to an ethical problem regarding a specific virtue; every child chooses the solution that in his/her opinion realizes the virtue, explains why he/she made this choice, and then discusses with other children his/her idea; the educative reason of this activity is to offer to children the possibility to reason on a specific virtue by his/herself and with others, starting from a problematic ethical situation.

Data collected during the last years on these activities were analyzed through qualitative and inductive approaches. The research confirms the educative effectiveness of the project.