This is one of those issues that can get philosophical very fast. (Strange, isn't it that philosophical, which used to mean 'love of learning' has become almost synonymous for "blowhards with agendas?") Nature/nurture, the limits of training and back to the old question of "heart".
It is possible for someone to do something badly because they don't know how to do it well. It is also possible for someone to do something badly in exactly the same way because of who they are. One is a training issue, the other a character flaw. One is a relatively easy fix. The other may not be fixable.
This problem hits a lot of buttons in our society. The word "flaw" is very judgmental, and that is frowned on. The idea that some people might not be able to learn something seems clearly discriminatory and possibly even elitist.
These buttons exist side-by-side with other facts, that are rarely challenged but just the same things in different words. All people are different. Personalities are defined as the collection of character traits that last over time. It is okay to say that everyone has a talent (though some seem to very clearly not) and it is sort of okay to say that everyone has a weak spot... but when it extends to 'certain people are incapable of certain things', we glitch.
Theoretical example: a rookie police officer who uses excessive force. It may be a training issue in that he lacks the skills to handle things at a lower level. It may be an experience issue that he doesn't have the confidence in himself to handle things the softer and riskier way. Those are both fixable. But he may also be prone to panic, and when the fear kicks in he lashes out in a blind flurry. Or he just may be mean. Those are character issues and harder to fix, if they are fixable at all. One of the problems is that in an actual incident mistakes or bad behavior can look exactly the same regardless of source. A rookie with training issues can be an asset given time and effort and experience. The same rookie with a character flaw will be a detriment and a danger to everyone for as long as he has access to victims.
It's similar on the criminal side. Every human being has criminal impulses. It would be cool to have instant gratification and if it weren't for this stupid conscience and this nagging, quixotic belief in the humanity of others we could go to town, baby! Relatively few act on the impulses. A smaller number have no hesitation. What would be an impulse in another person is just the way things are- the humanity of their victims doesn't even register... and you get a career violent criminal. (There's more going on there, of course- just an illustration)
So which things are character and which are training? How much of the self-help industry is based on attempting to train away problems that are deeper than knowledge? If someone believes that they are largely jellyfish adrift and controlled by events (what psychologists term an external locus of control) can you really just teach them to take control of their lives and be assertive?
(And this hits another snag in the discussion- there are deeper levels of teaching, some of which can affect character, but often not reliably or it doesn't last. Or people will say or even believe that their character has changed, but their behavior doesn't. Buyer beware.)
How sure do you have to be to declare something a character flaw? When do you take away an officer's gun?
Again, in most lines of work, the difference might not matter much. But in a profession where the person will be subject to high levels of stress and must make high stakes decisions under that stress very quickly a character that freezes or over-reacts can get a lot of people hurt.
Even more, since I am a monkey and have to complicate things- what are the gradations of character and where do you draw the lines? I am very, very good at staying objective under stress. Partially training, a lot due to experience, but much of it is just temperament- for whatever reason I don't feel fear as an emotion with a lot of connotations. I register the adrenaline but it's not a pleasant or unpleasant thing. It just is. So, what about the guys who are just very good at it? Or good? Or okay? Most human traits are scalar, not binary.
This is just a discussion here but in another place and time it is a harsh decision with potentially drastic consequences. As a teacher, as a supervisor how much risk at what stakes with what evidence...
Thump 'n' Bump - Past three days, I was at a silat seminar in Battle Ground, WA. “Silat” here being the short version of Pukulan Pentjak Silat Sera Plinck, a Javanese ma...
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