mission is to continue to build an inclusive Catholic learning
community committed to the celebration of each individual's fundamental
human dignity. Central to our mission is a unique strength-based
approach to education which nurtures healthy relationships and builds
supportive and collaborative learning environments. Through positive
learning experiences, we will foster student engagement and cultivate
hope for each student's future.
video to the right gives an overview and brief history of our project.
The contents of this site provide a growing collection of anecdotal and
instructional information for any school or teacher that is interested
in getting started with strength-based learning.
A student-created video about the history of Strength in Education Project...
What is a Strength-Based Approach?
What is a strength-based approach?
A strength-based approach is a manner of doing things rooted in the belief:
• that people (and groups of people i.e. organizations, neighbourhoods, communities) have existing competencies;
• that people have resources and are capable of learning new skills and solving problems;
• that people can use existing competencies to identify and address their own concerns; and
• that people can be involved in the process of discovery and learning.
A strength-based approach is a perspective more than a set of hard and fast rules. It strives to leads with the positive and values trust, respect, intentionality and optimism.
Using a strength-based approach does not mean:
• you should never say no
• you fabricate strengths
• you should be overly complimentary or insincere
• you can’t talk about needs, gaps and concerns
it is based on the idea that people and environments interact and
change each other in the process. Each has the ability to build the
the document below for more information about a Strengths-Based
Approach by the Alliance for Children and Youth of Waterloo Region:
Why Apply This Approach to Education?
is no doubt school plays a critical role in child and youth development
throughout the lifespan. Martin Seligman (2002) believed optimal
development occurs when institutions, traits (character strengths), and
subjective experiences are in alignment. Positive institutions foster
development of positive traits, which in turn can lead to positive
subjective experiences. Character education in the classroom can take
many forms. Identifying students’ strengths by taking the VIA survey is a
great place to start.
aiding students in the discovery of their strengths, educators should
first discover their own strengths and learn to apply them in and out of
the classroom. As students discover their strengths, they gain a better
understanding of their own emotional states. Sharing this new
information with peers can also encourage students to think of people in
terms of their strengths. A principal belief of positive psychology
suggests capitalizing on an individual’s strengths will likely to lead
to more positive outcomes than would focusing on their weaknesses.
Therefore when providing feedback to a student, highlighting what was
done well and why may be more beneficial than focusing on what was done
poorly. When educators are mindful of students’ strengths they can help
students feel empowered, while strengthening the mentoring relationship
between student and educator (Lopez & Louis, 2009). Educators
therefore have the responsibility of bringing students’ strengths to the
forefront, cultivating a greater understanding, and encouraging use in
school and other aspects of daily life. Educators play a vital role in
helping their students to discover their potential, and implementing
learning experiences that can help students realize this potential
(Lopez & Louis, 2009). Research provides evidence of the positive
outcomes that can be predicted by identifying and cultivating the
character strengths of students. It was found that self-control was a
more reliable predictor of academic success than IQ (Duckworth &
Seligman, 2006). Also, a study identified five character strengths
(perseverance, love, gratitude, hope, and perspective ) that predicted
high grade point averages (Peterson & Park, 2009).
Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16, 939–944
Lopez, S. J., Louis, M. C. (2009). The Principles of Strengths-Based Education. Journal of College and Character. 10(4), 1-8. doi: 10.2202/1940-1639.1041
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. Oxford handbook of positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and virtues: A
handbook and classification. New York: Oxford Press and Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association.
Seligman, M. E. P. 2002. Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.