Use your Character Strengths to energise you and ‘bounce forward’: The Importance of recognising our top Character strengths
What are Character Strengths?
People tend to think of character as something permanent and unchanging in people. The word “character” refers to those qualities that are distinctive to the individual. Scientific research concerning character began in the early 2000’s. A 3-year project involving 55 distinguished scientists devoted to studying character traits throughout time was launched. This resulted in the VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), a classification of 24 positive traits in human beings.
Since then, hundreds of peer-reviewed articles have been published across many cultures. One of the key findings about character is that each human being has a constellation of character traits (character strengths) that make him or her distinct or unique. Character strengths cannot be boiled down to one trait or a handful of traits; in addition character strengths are idiosyncratic and expressed in degrees and combinations based on the context one is in.
Character strengths are viewed as our positive personality traits in that they are our core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to ourselves and others. Every individual possesses all 24 Character Strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character profile (2017 VIA Institute on Character for further details see http://www.viacharacter.org).
Why are our Character Strengths important?
Character strengths can be used to address a variety of life challenges and achieve personal and professional outcomes. Recognising our strengths allow us to ‘be the best we can be’ in our everyday lives. When skilfully applied, character strengths can have a significant positive impact. Research suggests that using your character strengths can help:
- Buffer against, manage and overcome problems (bouncing forward in the face of adversity)
- Improve your relationships
- Boost Confidence
- Achieve goals
- Reduce Stress
- Enhance health and overall well-being
(VIA Institute, 2017)
Living in a state of wellbeing cultivates positivity and grit, and is considered a significant predictor of success in life (Duckworth, 2016).
How can recognising Character strengths enable the IB Learner?
The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The IB Learner Profile represents ten attributes valued by IB World Schools. These attributes enable individuals and groups to become responsible members of local, national and global communities. All students have the opportunity to identify and utilise their character strengths whilst embodying the IB Learner profile. The diagram below (Figure 1) aligns each of the 24 character strengths with the IB Learner profile characteristics, bringing the IB Learner profile to life. IB Learners draw on their strengths to energise them through the IB journey. The Character Strengths also provides a language for all IB Learners to engage and use in conversation to better understand members of their learning community.
Figure 1: Character strengths and the IB Learner Profile
- Drawing on our individual strengths are acknowledged and visually represented in the ‘QAHS Declaration of commitment to Health and Wellbeing’. https://qahs.eq.edu.au/our-academy/health-wellbeing/ The solid trunk of the Wellbeing Tree represents the collective strengths of the QAHS community and the support it provides with the many initiatives that grow and benefit our community. Our roots are grounded in the IB Learner profile.
- All teaching and non-teaching staff have participated in professional development, highlighting the importance of Character strengths and have identified their unique signature strengths.
- The Student Executive team have led Mentor Learning Groups through the importance of character strengths and identification of students’ individual character strengths.
- Students and staff have visually displayed their top character strengths (via the use of stickers) on tablets/ water bottles/ Homework diaries etc.
- Term focus on one character strength, aligned with the IB Learner Profile Characteristic (Term 3 Focus: Kindness IBLP: Caring).
Term 4 Focus will utilize the character strength: Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence (IBLP: Reflective/Balanced). During Term 4, QA Community members will notice, and appreciate excellence, skilled performance in all domains of their lives from nature to excellence at Academy Awards Night. This strength falls under the virtue of Transcendence that describes “strengths that provides a connection to higher meaning and purpose other than ourselves”.
At QAHS we look forward to further developing our awareness of each individual’s character strengths, and to support the importance of these virtues, for both students and staff in their IB Journey.
Miss Alita Blackmur
Health and Wellbeing Coordinator