July 24, 2014

Focused on Virtue

Last summer I attended an Educational Conference for a teaching methodology called Waldorf. While there, I learned of "The Virtue Project." And I felt it needed to be a focus in my parenting and teaching. This is a great perspective to take in raising kids or in education and developing them into more well-rounded citizens and people of character.

The Virtues Project was founded in Canada in 1991 by Linda Kavelin-Popov, Dr. Dan Popov and John Kavelin. It was honored by the United Nations during the International Year of the Family as a "model global program for families of all cultures". They create cards, affirmations, guides, etc. to help in various areas of life in which we can focus on bringing these virtues into play.

These are the areas of life they list for focusing on the virtues

It started when they sat down and studied and noted all the virtues they found mentioned in various major religious texts. From all the characteristics noted they found they were able to whittle them down into 52 underlying virtues. Click here for the website's definitions of each virtue.

The 52 Virtues

There are five strategies the use for the process of bringing these virtues into play in the various areas of focus in life. These are details for the first two (where I've been spending my focus), but the photo below has the summary of all five.

  1. Speak the Language of Virtue: I love that they focus on speaking virtues (instead of focusing on the counterpart (opposite, bad behavior). Instead of saying to your child "don't hit your sister, that's bad," say "was that being gentle to sister?" This helps the child realize where they fall short of goodness, without labeling them as being bad. And praise when you see good virtues practiced, so you don't have to wait until the bad virtues come out.
  2. Recognize Teachable Moments: If you notice your child doing something that isn't upholding positive virtues, use that moment to stop and help them evaluate. Like the example just mentioned. It's about asking the right questions and taking time to show a better way (without over-talking), rather than shaming kids and making them feel guilty or bad. As you practice teaching moments you will learn how to clearly and simply emphasize good over bad. 

I love the beautiful card set they sell, though I don't own a set. They had one at the conference and we each picked one and discussed it with our "neighbor." Each virtue card has the definition, picture, quote, statement of belief and a bullet list of ways one would show living that virtue. It's a great format for understanding virtues, whether of not you focus on all 52 (which is a lot and maybe a little overwhelming).

So, I started taking this concept and thinking about President Hinckley's 9 Be's. These 9 attributes of focus were a good starting point to work from. And for Gospel study I focus on the 9 Christlike Attributes: faith, hope, Charity/love, virtue, knowledge, patience, diligence, obedience, humility (and I added gratitude).

I will post more later on these as I try to see how to make focusing on virtues a more integral and defined part of my life and parenting, so my children have a simplified and defined view of the most important values of "being."

Teaching Your Children Values, by the Eyres has been a good place to start for ideas on how to teach some of the values. Then I will just need to keep practicing communicating positive virtues (so getting familiar with what they are and what they mean). And focusing on a few has been the greatest help, instead of trying to memorize and teach all of them (esp. when my child is only 4). The ones I focus on now are gentleness, responsibility, happiness, gratitude, thoughtfulness, etc.

This Week's Goal:
Why not pick one to focus on this week and try saying to your children, "you showed gentleness when you _____" so you acknowledge the child's postitive behavior, instead of labeling them as a person.

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