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Ravenswood strives to foster young women of value who will live with meaning and purpose and enrich the world. A key focus of our Positive Education programs is the building of character strengths – universally recognised traits that help us to flourish and perform at our best.
Professor Martin Seligman identified 24 universally prized moral traits that we all possess to varying degrees. They range from perception to hope and kindness to curiosity. Strengths-building can act as a buffer against the vicissitudes of life and help to manage and overcome problems and improve relationships.
Ravenswood’s entire staff and student body have participated in training to identify their personal strengths. They are learning ways to leverage them daily to improve every aspect of their lives. As teachers develop their own character strengths, they can help students notice and identify times when their strengths are evident in the classroom, or when they have used a particular strength to complete a task to a high standard. Students become increasingly able to help their peers identify their key strengths in action.
Character strengths are not static. Students and staff learn daily habits to boost their weaker strengths in ways that will shape how they engage in the teaching and learning process. They also learn how to employ their key strengths in an appropriate, balanced way.
The 24 character strengths identified by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman are:
- Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
- Bravery [valour]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it.
- Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share.
- Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.
- Curiosity [interest, novelty–seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in all of ongoing experience; finding all subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.
- Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
- Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.
- Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
- Hope [optimism, future–mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.
- Humour [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.
- Integrity [authenticity, honesty]: Speaking the truth but more broadly, presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretence; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.
- Judgment [open–mindedness, critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.
- Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, 'niceness']: Doing favours and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.
- Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintaining good relations within the group; organising group activities and seeing that they happen.
- Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people.
- Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.
- Modesty and humility: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
- Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; 'getting it out the door'; taking pleasure in completing tasks.
- Perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people.
- Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
- Self–regulation [self–control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions.
- Social intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.
- Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.
- Zest [vitality, enthusiasm, vigour, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing.