What is it about?

Phronesis is a term used by Aristotle to refer to the highest level of practical wisdom, emotional intelligence, and social-emotional competence. We describe how a spiral staircase serves as a model to understand the development of the skill in children and youth with a particular focus on the context within which the youth live.

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Why is it important?

We take a Developmental Ecological Systems approach, by which we mean that while there are principles of human development, these must be understood in the particular sociocultural and economic living situations people are in. Here, we focus on children growing up in under-resourced urban environments and show how a contextual understand will guide better interventions to help these young people reach their potential.


The moral development of our children is the moral development of our society. We are writing future history as we prepare our youth for the future. We must be especially concerned to act with equity, and ensure that all students are getting the appropriate and proper guidance for making ethical decisions.

Maurice Elias
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Spiral Model of Phronesis Development: Social-emotional and character development in low-resourced urban schools, Journal of Moral Education, June 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2019.1626703.
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