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Developing and using Character Strengths in the classroom Jock McGinty.

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Presentation on theme: "Developing and using Character Strengths in the classroom Jock McGinty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing and using Character Strengths in the classroom Jock McGinty

2 MSc Teaching of Psychology Friday Breakout event one: 3.00pm

3 J.F. Kennedy ‘We choose to go to the moon’ h?v=kwFvJog2dMw

4 Over the past 20 years, changes in the U.K. and world economies have raised the stakes for educational attainment. U.K. adolescents have responded by dramatically increasing their educational aspirations and expectations to go to university.

5 Students need the capacity to strive for, and succeed at, long-term and higher-order goals so they can persist in the face of the array of challenges they encounter in their studies and life.

6 Martin Seligman and positive psychology

7 Introduction to Positive Psychology Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote factors that allow individuals, communities, societies to thrive and flourish. Haidt and Gable (2005)

8 Positive Education Schools are not places just to learn the skills of achievement or to use as a stepping stone for a career, but institutions to educate children on how to live lives signified by good character and values. What do positive education and positive schools look like?

9 Positive education and schools Positive Psychology, when applied to schools, focuses on the intentional cultivation of student wellbeing and resilience, their intellectual/cognitive strengths and character strengths and the development of their sense of meaning or purpose in life. McGrath 2009

10 Authentic Happiness Positive emotion Engagement Meaning Life satisfaction Subjective well being


12 Well being Positive emotion Engagement Relationships Meaning Accomplishment PERMA

13 Chris Peterson and Nansook Park


15 VIA Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth)


17 Barbara L. Fredrickson The Broaden and Build Theory Is There a Critical Positivity Ratio for flourishing?

18 Grit perseverance resilience Your ‘I can’ is more important than your IQ

19 Seligman and Duckworth (2005) Academic performance depends in large part on students’ self-control or Conscientiousness, concluding that “a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential [is] their failure to exercise self-discipline” p.939

20 Ratings of character strengths Top 5 typically Humour Love Gratitude Honesty Curiosity Bottom 5 typically Perseverance Prudence Love of learning Self regulation Spirituality

21 True Grit

22 Angela Lee Duckworth

23 Grit A never yielding form of self-discipline Typifies high levels of accomplishment As essential as IQ to high achievement


25 Grit versus self-discipline

26 Resilience Resilience is the process and capacity for successful adaption despite challenging circumstances Task: 1.Think individually of 4 factors that are required for your students to become resilient 2.Discuss these factors and settle on the most important 5 3.Feedback for group discussion

27 Foundations for positive education Foundation One: Mastery and competence Foundation two: Positive emotions Foundation Three: Strengths and engagement Foundation Four: Meaning and purpose

28 Developing mastery and competence through skills Social skills such as negotiation and positive discussion Skills that lead to mastery and a sense of success such as thinking skills, reflection and metacognition Goal–achievement skills such as planning, setting time- lines, solving problems and seeking assistance Resilience skills such as optimistic thinking, courage, coping skills, helpful thinking

29 Activities to develop resilient students Using the ABC model

30 ABC model An activating event (A) occurs, our beliefs (B) influence the consequences (C) in two ways how we feel (emotional response) and how we act (behavioural response). If we are able to be more mindful of our beliefs, evaluate how realistic our beliefs are and consider alternative evidence, we might be able to detect patterns that may be counterproductive and stop the downward spiral that could occur.

31 A = Activating Event I can’t answer this question on explanations of schizophrenia B = Belief/thought C = Consequence feelings D = Dispute

32 A = Activating Event I have my A2 Psychology exam approaching B = Belief/thought ‘I’m going to fail! This is unbearable, I can’t stand it. I’ll never be able to prepare for it, not with life the way it is right now. I’m useless, why am I bothering? There’s no point. C = Consequence feelings Anxious – can’t sleep – can’t focus. D = Dispute

33 Possible activating events in the classroom. Thinking traps Jumping to conclusions (coming to a conclusion without gathering sufficient evidence) Magnifying and minimizing (tendency to devote greater focus on bad events and lesser focus on good events) Externalizing (blaming others or external circumstances for the outcome of events) TASK: Discuss examples of when your students fall into these traps

34 Using critical questions These questions prompt people to correct their faulty beliefs by testing the accuracy of the beliefs and evaluating their usefulness. TASK: discuss how you would use critical questions for each of these thinking traps Jumping to conclusions Magnifying and minimizing Externalizing How does this help build resilience?

35 Putting it in perspective On your own, identify 4 ways in which you put students work and challenges into perspective Discuss your thoughts and settle on 5 Thoughts How does putting things into perspective build resilience? Can you see any similarities with AfL?

36 Improve your well being

37 Other techniques Best possible selves Gratitude letter

38 Summary

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