In the last couple of eNews articles I have mentioned the Parent Book Club which will take place on Tuesday 26 June at 7.00 pm. The venue is “The Mockingbird Lounge” at 63a The Broadway, Glenelg South. You may remember we are discussing “The Strength Switch” by Dr Lea Waters. Given this, I thought perhaps it was a good time to revisit the concept of strengths, which is foundational to the wellbeing approach we take at Westminster.

Positive Psychology, which is a relatively new area of study, has identified 24 character strengths which are seen as contributing to our overall wellbeing by providing more positive emotion, engagement, meaning, accomplishment and better relationships. In many fields (business, education, parenting, change management etc), there is growing awareness that focusing on weakness or deficits is less effective in encouraging growth than is focusing on strengths or assets. There is an energy and motivation that comes from a strength based approach; it is life-giving.  Many of our students have taken the VIA Character Strength survey which asks a series of questions to help them identify their top character strengths. Without fail, when I see students print out their top five character strengths, the delight (and pride) with which they read and acknowledge these strengths, is a clear indication that focusing on strengths lifts our sights about ourselves and what is possible. If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to complete the survey at www.viacharacter.org It is free and takes around 20 minutes to complete. I will be astonished if you don’t experience the same pleasure when you receive your results, that I have observed in our students.

All this talk about strengths does not mean we ignore or refuse to address weakness. But our natural negativity bias means that we readily see the weaknesses, and we need to put in more effort to focus on the positive. If you are interested in finding out more, the ‘VIA Character’ website mentioned above is a great place to start. As Jennifer M. Fox Eades states in her book 'Celebrating Strengths: Building Strengths-based Schools', “We get more of what we focus on. If we habitually focus on weakness and remedying weaknesses then we will struggle to help children to flourish. Conversely, if we focus on strengths we will find and help them to develop even further.”

Liz Collins
Head of Wellbeing