VIA Blog - Stories to inspire and resources to motivate.

Celebrating Strengths: A School Project with VIA at its Heart

May 16, 2014 by ·

A few weeks ago I once more visited the wonderful Downshall Primary School, a school that is embedding character strengths across the curriculum as a way of building confidence and enjoyment in students and teachers.  My visit was part of Downshall’s Festival of Wisdom celebrations.

I focused on storytelling and on spotting strengths in stories. It was my pleasure to lead two assemblies – Downshall is a BIG primary school – one for 4-7 year-olds and and the other for 8-11 year-olds.

strengths in schoolsAnd I told a story that is over 1000 years old, the story of Benno and the Beasts. In this story, Benno, a monk, learns WISDOM as he realizes that there is beauty all around him and not just in his own prayers. And the children joined with me in retelling the story – they were perfect at providing the sound effects of the various animals Benno met on his walks around the countryside – and then in silent reflection on what ‘WISDOM’ means to each one of us. We also called to mind a wise person in our own lives, someone to whom we could dedicate all the work we did that day, a GRATITUDE practice that I have developed and use in my own life and work as well as teaching in schools.

Later, in several classrooms, I told the story of Rainbow Rider, a retelling of my own based on the book of the same name by Jane Yolen. Again, this was followed by reflection,  although the reflection took different forms. For the 4 year olds, reflection meant creating a picture (out of smarties) inspired by the story. For the 10 year olds it meant a 30-minute, thoughtful discussion of which strengths they felt the story embodied the most. We used a set of strengths postcards and moved them into and out of a circle as we discussed together which 5 strengths belonged at the heart of the story.

The children’s comments were insightful and opened my eyes to seeing aspects of a story I know well, in new ways. Stories and reflection together – bringing character strengths to life and deepening learning.

Thank you Jenny Fox Eades, from Celebrating Strengths, for sharing this story!

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone