A three-level course for young people designed to enable students, teachers, and others to learn about, recognise, build upon, and use their character strengths more.
Strengths Gym was developed jointly by psychologist Dr Carmel Proctor and teacher and education researcher Dr Jenny Fox Eades. Research findings demonstrate a significant increase in student life satisfaction and well-being from participation.
A strength is a way of thinking, feeling, or behaving that is either innate or which has developed early in life. Our strengths are our areas of greatest potential growth, the areas where we will excel. Working on your strengths is always more effective and rewarding than fixing your weaknesses and in order to fix your weaknesses effectively, you need to be using your strengths.
One of the key insights of positive psychology is that we get more of what we focus on. This course looks at personal well-being from a positive perspective, providing opportunities to consider prudent and considerate behaviour, a healthy lifestyle, and good relationships. It does this through a focus on the behaviour we do want rather than on the behaviour we don’t want. In particular, it allows behaviour to be looked at in the light of the strengths we already possess – and would benefit from using more.
The course provides a flexible, easy to use lesson format for ease of planning and is designed to encourage intrinsic motivation and satisfaction for students. The course has broad applications outside of education, such as clinical and therapeutic settings, and is suitable for individual and group work. The materials can also be adapted for use with various age groups and abilities.
Each lesson explores one of 24 ubiquitous strengths of character or virtues. Each lesson contains Strengths Builders and Strengths Challenge exercises that have been designed for the classroom, paired, or solitary work. We have adopted a menu format for the sessions so that you can choose activities that you feel will suit your class or student(s) and ensure learners have a variety of activities over the weeks. At the same time, all the activities will contribute towards a focus on the strength presented in a given session.
Level 1 – Designed to teach the strengths presented and to help students understand their meaning
Level 2 – Students find out more about the strengths and use them themselves
Level 3 – Further development of strengths and a deeper more philosophical understanding of each strength
For ease of use and presentation, several features of the course have been placed here online and are to be used in conjunction with the Strengths Gym Manual. The course levels are designed to make learners more aware of their strengths and encourage a positive outlook on life.
Suggestions of Songs, Films, Quiet Moments and Funny Moments, additional student activities, and links to YouTube clips have been provided for each of the 24 character strengths here on the Strengths Gym Teacher’s Manual Additional Content page.
One of the key aims of Strengths Gym is for students to become more aware of strengths – in themselves, in other people, and in the world around them. This can lead to increased self-esteem, academic achievement, and ‘prosocial’ behaviour (e.g., better teamwork, improved social skills).