Virtues as a Way of Life

Watch a trailer for Whispering Wings here.

This is a blog I wrote several years ago on a previous blog but felt it was worth revisiting.

“Too many of our children are technical wizards and moral illerates. Power plus control leads to violence. Power plus compassions transforms bullies into leaders.”

~ The Virtues Project 

As a society our focus appears to be more on “anti-bullying” and less on “building character”. In my heart I feel we have it backward.

When I first heard about The Virtues Project I felt hopeful. Hopeful that, as an educator, I would find a language and the resources to further promote character education in my classroom. I had always been interested in service learning and democracy in the classroom but this took it a step further for me as I was introduced to the five strategies: using the language of the virtues, setting clear boundaries, using teachable moments, honoring the spirit and offering companioning. You can learn more about these on The Virtues Project website (above).

Virtues are the qualities of our character. They are within each us. They are like seeds. By acknowledging the virtues within yourself and others you are nourishing the seeds and watching them grow. Instead of shaming, encouraging people to use their courage in a difficult situation honors their spirit and builds their confidence and self esteem. I like that LynnAnne MacNeil, one of my workshop facilitators, describes the virtues as “the gems within us”.

There are an abundance of virtues. At first, being able to think of the right one, in those teachable moments, seemed like a daunting task. I’ve learned that it takes practice and commitment. I have to remain diligent. I was fortunate enough to have received a set of the virtue cards and The Family Virtues Guide as gifts. I began reading The Family Virtues Guide and doing daily “virtues picks”. Sometimes I do a few “picks” a day because I love doing them. I randomly pull a card, read it and think about how it applies to my life. This can also be done on The Virtues Project website ( if you don’t have your own set of cards. There are also apps available.

Personally, I try I try to incorporate the five strategies into my daily life but it isn’t always easy. I offer myself compassion when I falter, like forgetting to use a teachable moment. I am fortunate to be surrounded by other people experimenting with the same language (the language of the virtues). This way we can offer support to one another. Our school has a virtue of the month that we work on. My job share partner and I have started a project honoring the gift of service with our students. You can learn a bit more about that The Virtues Project also inspired me to write my second picture book, Whispering Wings. Along with giving concrete examples patience, helpfulness, cooperation, friendliness and determination Whispering Wings provides an avenue to discuss the virtue of compassion. It allows readers to make connections to other stories of determination, like Terry Fox.

Anyone and everyone can benefit from knowing more about The Virtues Project. I aspire to make the five strategies of The Virtues Project a habit in my life. Like with any habit it will require constant commitment and practice, something I believe will be very rewarding for all involved.