At Perth College, we focus on ‘seeing the girl’.
We see each and every one of our students.
We see their strengths, interests and passions.
A key component is assisting each girl to understand her own character strengths.
InsideOut Director Deb Perich says focusing on strengths, rather than trying to correct weaknesses, helps the girls build resilience, optimism and achievement.
“Knowing our own strengths and the strengths of others in our team is a great pathway to increase hope and engagement,” she says.
“Our wellbeing data suggests a strong increase in both of these areas since we started to teach our girls to recognise their strengths.”
Deb believes we each have the power to create an active awareness of our character strengths and can use this to reach our goals.
Research in this area clearly shows that people have a tendency to remember and be more affected by negative events than positive ones.
“We all need negative events to learn from and help us grow, but these experiences should never define us,” Deb says.
“In fact, by understanding out strengths, we can face challenging experiences knowing we have a range of unique resources available to help us work through them.”
What are Character Strengths?
The science behind character strengths has been featured in an enormous amount of research and used in various industries – from business and education to healthcare, coaching and counselling.
Deb emphasises that “character strengths are central to ‘thinking, feeling, willing and behaving’ and influence the way we approach the world.”
“Understanding our own strengths and viewing life through a strengths-based lens helps us build capacity to handle and navigate adversity, enhance wellbeing, and increase engagement with daily tasks, and leads to an upward spiral of happiness and success,” she says.
The VIA Institute on Character has a number of good resources that the Perth College InsideOut team draws on, including assessment tools to help identify each girl’s strengths.
There are 24 character strengths in total covering off key areas including wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.
“You will often hear a Perth College girl referring to how she has drawn on a particular strength in any given situation,” Deb shares proudly.
“Right from Kindergarten, we implicitly and explicitly teach the language and help them understand what each of the words mean. We practice strength spotting through InsideOut all the time.”
The implicit teaching of character strengths continues to build a positive educational experience at Perth College and by focusing on sharing skills that energise, engage, motivate and support growth for one-another, Deb says the School is home to girls who are truly empowered with a range of strategies to draw upon when striving to achieve their goals.
“By really seeing and helping each girl recognize her own strengths we are helping them be their best,” she says.