Different Frameworks for Character Education

21 October 2020
Review

FRAMEWORKS ON CHARACTER EDUCATION

To help educators access available resources on character education and appreciate the application of character strengths in promoting well-being in our students, here are a few useful sites that are worth exploring.

Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focussing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. Launched in 2012, the Centre promotes a moral concept of character in order to explore the importance of virtue for public and professional life. The Centre, through its extensive range of projects, contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and societies.

It aims to strengthen character virtues by:

• addressing critical questions about character;

• promoting, through rigorous research, the development of good character in education, business and society, both in the UK and globally;  

• building and strengthening character virtues in the contexts of the family, school, community, university, professions, voluntary organisations and the wider workplace.

Its Framework for Character Education in schools includes:

I. Virtues that are broken down into 4 types:

(i) Intellectual virtues,

(ii) Moral virtues,

(iii) Civic virtues, and

(iv) Performance virtues

All of these work in combination towards the development of the meta-virtue of phronesis.

II. A Neo-Aristotelian Model of Moral Development which depicts possible pathways to becoming virtuous, through the Aristotelian lens of habituation, foregrounding the importance of early family upbringing

The Framework is intended to offer a perspective on character education for schools to consider, and not be treated as a blueprint for teaching character in schools. The framework is flexible and relevant to all individuals, organisations, and institutions seeking to articulate their approach to character development.

To learn more, please visit

https://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/432/character-education

VIA Institute on Character

The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world. They do so by creating and validating surveys of character, supporting researchers, and developing practical strengths-based tools for individuals and professionals, such as therapists, managers and educators.

In the early 2000s, the VIA Institute supported pivotal work on the nature of positive character. A three-year, 55-scientist study led by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman culminated in the landmark text, “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification”. The project also involved the creation of two valid and free measurement tools, the VIA Inventory of Strengths (colloquially known as the VIA Survey) for adults, and the VIA Youth Survey.

VIA advocates 24 character strengths that make up what is best about our personality. Everyone possesses all 24-character strengths in different degrees, so each person has a totally unique character strengths profile. Each character strength falls under one of the six broad virtue categories, which are universal across cultures and nations. You can read more and download free resources from the link below.

https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths

The VIA (Values In Action) Survey is a psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths. When you discover your greatest strengths, you can use them to face life’s challenges, work toward goals, and feel more fulfilled both personally and professionally. In turn, researchers and professionals can access years’ worth of survey results data to advance the science and practice of strengths.

Anyone can take The VIA Survey for free and is available in many languages.

https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register

Besides the survey and downloads, VIA Institute provides a lot of science-based research articles on topics that pertain various gamut of life – it culminates from the essence of identification and usage of the strengths. Some of the topics are classified as: Achieving Goals, Career Building, Happiness, Meaning, Mindfulness, Parenting, Relationships, and the like. There are also various courses and books that will help any individual to delve further for a better understanding of the science and research.

See https://www.viacharacter.org/resources  

Character Lab

The Character Lab comprises an enthusiastic and mission-oriented team of researchers with an aim to provide the benefit of Science-based techniques to educators, who in turn will help children to flourish. They believe that character development has a place wherever there are students - public, private, parochial, urban, suburban, rural, low-income, high-income, and everything in between.

Character Lab advances scientific insights that help kids thrive. By connecting researchers with educators, Character Lab seeks to create greater knowledge about the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people throughout the country. They forge strategic partnerships to integrate scientific insights into existing educational media, products, and services. They work directly with all types of schools.

The Character Lab team defines character as everything that we do to help other people as well as ourselves. They have separated character strengths into 3 dimensions:

1. Strengths of heart – such as gratitude, that enables harmonious relationships with other people

2. Strengths of will – such as grit and self-control, that enable achievement

3. Strengths of mind – such as curiosity, that enables independent thinking

Besides, they recognize and support a diversity of frameworks. For example:

• Social Emotional Learning (SEL),

• Whole child, and

• 21st-century skills

The table below can help us get a fair idea of the focus and style of Character Lab:

There are many research-based guides to cultivate strengths of heart, mind, and will. Some of the topics are listed below:

• Purpose

• Grit

• Growth Mindset

• Intellectual Humility

• Emotional Intelligence

• Social Intelligence

Access these here:

https://characterlab.org/playbooks/

Penn Resilience Programme

The Penn Resiliency Program (PRP) is a group intervention for late elementary and middle school students. The curriculum teaches cognitive-behavioural and social problem-solving skills and is based in part on cognitive-behavioural principles and clinical practices developed by Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and Martin Seligman. ABC Model is at the core of this program.

It has been developed as an evidence-based training program that has demonstrated to build resilience, well-being, and optimism. These strengths-based programmes equip individuals with a set of practical skills that can be applied in everyday life to navigate adversity and thrive in challenging environments.

Penn has a team of curriculum developers, instructors, and subject matter experts with the expertise and experience to customize and deliver resilience programs to a wide variety of audiences.

Decades of empirical studies indicate that the programme

• Increases well-being and optimism

• Reduces and prevents depression, anxiety, and conduct problems

• Results in fewer substance abuse and mental health diagnoses

• Improves physical health

The full Penn Resilience Program includes a set of 21 empirically validated skills that build cognitive and emotional fitness, strength of character, and strong relationships. The skills included in each program vary based on the needs of the client and length of the program. Their focus is on the following resilience competencies:

• Self-Awareness

• Self-Regulation

• Mental Agility

• Strengths of Character

• Connection

• Optimism

To learn more, please visit:

https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/resilience-programs/resilience-skill-set

From 1990 to 2007, a series of longitudinal, controlled studies were conducted to determine the effectiveness of a school-based cognitive-behavioural intervention designed to prevent depression and anxiety among middle school students. More than 20 studies have been conducted that indicate that The Penn Resilience Programme can prevent and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. A description of the programme can be found here:

https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/prplessons.pdf

SPARK Resilience in Education Programme

The Spark Resilience In Education programme is led by Professor Ilona Boniwell, CEO Positran; Programme Leader, MSc in Applied Positive Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University; Visiting Professor, University of East London

The SPARK Resilience curriculum takes students on a journey of self-reflection and becoming more in control of their lives. Organised around the SPARK acronym, it teaches students to break simple and complex situations into manageable components of: Situation, Autopilot, Perception, Reaction and Knowledge.

To help students understand these concepts, they are introduced to ‘parrots of perception’ – imaginary creatures representing common distortions of human cognition and thinking. The programme teaches students how to challenge their interpretation of everyday life situations and consider other alternatives to decide if their parrots were right to begin with.

Uncomfortable cognitive habits (e.g., the Blamer, Worrier and Whatever parrots) are contrasted with the more comfortable ones (e.g., the Wise, Confident and Optimist). Understanding their cognitive biases helps students to better recognise their automatic emotional responses and learn to control some of their non-constructive behavioural reactions.

SPARK Resilience aims to develop the skills of resilience across 10 lessons through the use of fun educational activities. The programme operates within the psycho-educational framework, which means it is not group therapy. Most work is based upon hypothetical scenarios, common for students of this age and adjusted for gender and cultural backgrounds. Although students are encouraged to reflect, problem-solve, discuss and otherwise take part in the programme activities, they are not necessarily asked to self-disclose.

Following are the learning objectives:

• To develop a comprehensive understanding of what resilience is and how it can be developed

• To apply the adult-level version of these skills to your own life

• To become proficient in teaching primary and secondary school children resilience skills

SPARK Resilience was selected as one of the best resilience programmes in the UK by Public Health England (PHE) London and is showcased on the London Grid for Learning Portal. Recently, a major international educational charity Partnership for Children, with partners in 32 countries around the world, has acquired the rights for the SPARK Resilience Programme outside of France and Francophone territories, Singapore and Japan and is currently proposing SPARK Resilience programme as a follow-up for their existing resilience resources in primary schools, Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends. Soon, resilience will be SPARKing all over the world!

To learn more, please visit:

https://www.positran.eu/spark-resilience-in-education/

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