Our sponsor Lyfta recently presented at our SWIFT Character Education Professional Development Community on the topic of "Flourishing for All – Implementing and Embedding."
Character Education is one of the core Lyfta focus areas, and is at the heart of education - and it could be said to be our true legacy as teachers. Lyfta considers here how character and values-based learning can be made part of the curriculum.
When you were at school, who was your favourite teacher and why?
When I ask teachers this question, they often focus on those who were kind or caring or passionate. Qualities and values that went well beyond knowing their subject well.
As teachers, we want to help young people realise the best version of themselves, particularly in our ever-changing world. Character and values-based learning equips students for the future and sits at the heart of what we do as educators, but it's not always easy to embed it into classroom practice.
When I was working as a secondary teacher, my Headteacher used to encourage us to ‘teach the children in front of us’. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But ultimately, we often teach to our own style, our own tastes and preferences. What we have to do is consider every individual we have in front of us and what they need, based on their experiences.
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author.”
RUDINE SIMS BISHOP
Academic, Rudine Sims Bishop, explored children’s literature and the extent to which children's literature is written by African American authors and represents African American characters.
In her work, she advocated for books to become more than simply windows, allowing us to look in at other people. Instead, she suggested that stories should act as mirrors, allowing children to see themselves reflected back at them and even better is when they act as sliding glass doors, allowing us to step into another's life – to experience what they do, and learn to empathise with them.
As teachers, we can develop values and character in our children by giving the opportunities to both see themselves reflected and experience the lives of others. Beyond our own moral obligation to support students to become the best version of themselves, there are also statutory requirements that every school must adhere to.
For example, the Ofsted framework expects students to behave respectfully and courteously, as well as the school providing lots of opportunity for personal development. The newest RSE statutory guidance, released in 2019 and updated in 2021, outlines the ways in which schools must teach and support students to develop healthy and respectful relationships. There is also an expectation for all schools to provide spiritual, moral, social and cultural education, which includes moral and social skills and values.
Lyfta gives teachers the opportunity to nurture the whole child, build character and embed values, including resilience and service.
Its immersive platform can help you to embed positive values in your classroom and equip your students for the future through its world of positive human stories.
Each story has its own 360 degree environments, unique soundscapes and powerful short films to immerse students fully in a world beyond their own.
Students meet with individuals from communities across the globe, connect with their inspiring stories, and reflect on their values.
Our Kids’ Cup storyworld, which features the journeys of five young people competing in an international children’s football tournament, is one of many that helps teachers introduce values including perseverance, resilience and leadership to students.
Independent research conducted by the University of Tampere has also shown that Lyfta’s immersive human stories help students to develop empathy and understanding for those who are different from themselves.
By Anna Szpakowska, Lyfta Professional Development Lead
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You may wish to explore the Department of Education’s Character Education Framework Guidance.
Whilst it is not mandatory, it provides a possible starting point for schools considering how they embed character education into their curriculum and wider school life.