The Narnian Virtues pilot project was generously supported by the John Templeton Foundation. We have subsequently received additional funding from the John Templeton Foundation to scale up the Narnian Virtues Character Education project and invite schools in the UK, North America and beyond. Some of the results from the first year pilot project are published in the booklet excellence & ethics (Spring 2016) which can be downloaded here:
The Narnian Virtues project contributes to the growing field of character education, an area that has gained considerable political and pedagogical interest in the UK in recent years. Professor Mark Pike explains what is meant by character education, and how the Narnian Virtues project contributes to it.
The pilot project began in early 2015 with the recruitment of 7 classes in five schools in Yorkshire. The selection of novel extracts, identification of the key virtues in each novel, and the development of teaching materials and student activities in partnership with the participating teachers.
The project begins with quantitative and qualitative data collection in the form of a pre-test (a longer quantitative questionnaire and a short qualitative questionnaire to identify the students’ understanding of the terminology and meanings of character, virtues and vices).
Students were each provided with a project pack including a copy of the novel, a student workbook specific to the novel being studied, and a student journal. Teachers received the same pack with the addition of a teacher guide to the curriculum and a teacher journal.
The six-week project involved class readings of approximately 20 extracts from the novel and a series of activities to complete for each activity: identification, highlighting the virtues and vices in each extract; understanding, writing thoughts as the character in the extract and hot-seating as the character; and application, recognising where the student has themselves displayed the virtues (or vices) in the extract.
The journal provided the space for students’ reflections and more personal engagement with the project, including the opportunity to identify three virtues they particularly wanted to develop through the project, and also the opportunity to write a letter to C. S. Lewis responding to the novel they have read.
One year 5 (9-10 years old); one year 6 (10-11 years old) and two year 7 (11-12 years old) classes studied The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Two year 8 classes (12-13 years old) studied Prince Caspian and one year 9 class (13-14 years old) studied The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’.
One of our participating classes in the pilot project was a year 7 class at Featherstone Academy, near Pontefract in West Yorkshire. Here, three of the participating pupils give their thoughts and feedback on the project.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the pupils, teachers and head teachers of the participating classes in the pilot project:
Mrs S. Harbourne and Miss J. Bridge, Headteacher Mrs H. Acton, and the years 5 and 6 classes at Hatfield Woodhouse Primary School, Doncaster; Miss V. Cannons, Principal Mr J. Kenneally, and the year 7 class at Featherstone Academy, Pontefract; Mrs E. Bell and Miss J. Nelmbs, Principal Mrs M. Williams, and the years 7 and 9 classes at Royds Hall Community School, Huddersfield; Miss H. Bridge, Headteacher Dr A. Cummings, and the year 8 class at South Craven School, Cross Hills; Miss K. Hill, Principal Mr D. Page, and the year 8 class at Trinity Academy, Thorne.
For further information on an event which took place in one of the schools involved in the Narnian Virtues project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, download the flyer for the event here.