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Narnian Virtues Character Education English Curriculum Project

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C.S. Lewis Foundation ‘Oxbridge’ Summer Institute

In July-August 2017 Professor Mark Pike delivered two workshops at the C.S. Lewis Foundation ‘Oxbridge’ Summer Institute in Cambridge. He took delegates through curriculum material for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, as well as delivering a plenary address.

You can read Mark’s plenary address here:

CS Lewis ‘Oxbridge’ Summer Institute 2017.

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Teacher training day for Narnian Virtues schools

On 20th July the Narnian Virtues team delivered a one day training course covering the key elements of the curriculum for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian.

Copies of the key presentations can be found here: teacher training and here.

Professor Mark Pike

Professor Tom Lickona

Dr Shirley-Anne Paul

Dr Peter Hart

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Association for Character Education Annual Conference

Professor Mark Pike, Dr Shirley-Anne Paul and Dr Peter Hart delivered a workshop at Association for Character Education Annual Conference at Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire, on 14th July 2017. They took delegates through key activities from the curriculum for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The presentation can be found here.

Dr Shirley-Anne Paul

Dr Peter Hart

Part of the presentation.

Narnian Virtues highlighting task for delegates.

Nicky Morgan MP addressing delegates.

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New Narnian Virtues Curriculum published

At the end of May the revised curriculum for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the new curriculum for Prince Caspian were shared with participating schools. A greater range of activities has been introduced for the second year of the project, as well as an increased focus on English skills.

If your school is interested in taking part in the project, and would like to see the materials, please contact us at narnianvirtues@leeds.ac.uk.

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Childhood and Youth Academic Group seminar, University of Leeds

On 25th May Professor Mark Pike, Dr Shirley-Anne Paul, and Dr Peter Hart delivered a Childhood and Youth Academic Group seminar at the University of Leeds.

The presentation can be found here:

CAYAG Seminar

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Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain West Yorkshire Branch Seminar

On 16th May Professor Mark Pike, Dr Peter Hart and Dr Shirley-Anne Paul delivered a Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain West Yorkshire Branch Seminar at Leeds Trinity University.

A copy of the presentation can be found here:

PESGB Seminar

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Narnian Virtues in Texas and Oklahoma

On 4th April 2017 Professor Mark Pike delivered the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion Lecture in Texas. On 7th April he spoke at the 20th Annual C.S. Lewis & Inklings Conference, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma. He completed his trip to the USA with a talk at the Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas on 10th April.

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Prof Lickona delivers seminar on Digital Character at The Centre for Policy Studies in Education, University of Leeds

In January 2017 Prof Tom Lickona visited the Centre for Policy Studies in Education (CPSE), University of Leeds, and delivered a seminar on ‘Digital Character:  What could a school-response to the challenges of pornography look like?’. In the seminar Tom discussed why pornography has problematic consequences for young people and how teachers and parents can use character education to combat it.

A copy of Tom’s talk, as well as the handout he distributed during the seminar, can be accessed here:

Digital Character Talk

Digital Character seminar handout

Our photo shows Prof Tom Lickona delivering the seminar on Digital Character to academics and secondary school teachers at The Centre for Policy Studies in Education.

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Wisdom and Character education at the 6th Jubillee Centre conference

Because it was his Turkish Delight that he chose, it was a discussion. We realised that he understood that playing on his PlayStation was taking over his life. So he put that down as his Turkish Delight. Because of the Turkish Delight [activity] he’s been able to manage himself. The positive output is that he manages his time exceptionally well on that. [Parent’s interview response]

The Jubilee Centre is a hub for research and discussion into Character Education in the UK, and their 6th annual conference at Oriel College, Oxford, was focused on Wisdom. Delegates were treated to a plethora of definitions, conceptions, and concerns around the concept.

In our paper, we presented the latest findings from our Narnian Virtues research, investigating the relationship between character and English literature, with a focus on the influence and perspectives of parents. This paper reports how families are engaging in the Narnian Virtues character education project and we specifically focused on the views of parents. Initial highlights from the phone interviews with parents showed that the ‘Turkish Delight’ activity – where families write down something that tempts them the most – as the activity that resonated with them the most. This echoed our pilot year, where there was something about how reflecting on their own weaknesses helped them recognise everyday actions as being ethical. Simple behaviours, like turning on the X-Box or picking up their phone, began to be seen as ethical actions: that it reflected on their self-control, honesty, and wisdom. Analysis of this data will begin in earnest spring 2017.

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42nd Annual Association for Moral Education Conference

In December 2016 Prof. Mark Pike and Dr Peter Hart represented the Narnian virtues team at the AME conference, hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Prof Mark Pike presented on the parental involvement in the project. He described how we are engaging with parents through seminars and home activities that students take the lead on. He also described some of our initial findings from interviews with parents and carers. While the level of influence parents have over the character of teenagers is currently an aspect of some debate in academia, this project is empirically testing the hypothesis that the students who have greater parental help with developing their character will show greater change in their knowledge and application of the virtues. At the moment, our initial reflections on the data collected suggest that parents certainly believe they are very important to the student’s character development, and many have commented that this curriculum has aided in increasing the depth of conversations parents are able to engage in with their children.

At the same session, Dr Peter Hart began a more speculative philosophical piece asking whether home life could be considered a MacIntyrian practice (a regular human activity, rooted in our social nature, that offers opportunity to develop the virtues and leads towards human flourishing) and began to expound on whether character education is itself a practice, or better understood as an ‘internal good’ to the practice of teaching. In our pilot study we recognised that the home was a particularly important site for ethical reflection.

The keynotes focussed on Civic Engagement, against the backdrop of the US presidential elections, with a huge range of papers on character and moral education from myriad perspectives.  We found much common ground with other academics attempting to measure virtue quantitatively and evaluate curricula and character education programmes, and drew on wisdom from the latest developments in the psychology of virtues and ethical decision making.

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