Classics and Positive Psychology project
Starting on June 9th
and running for throughout the remainder of 2014, the East Oxford Community Classics Centre has been running weekly sessions for Cheney School pupils exploring positive psychology through classical myths. The workshops are designed and delivered by Vicky Arvaniti, a positive psychology specialist, in collaboration with The Iris Project.
Vicky explains further: "our approach is to focus on drawing out and raising participant awareness and use of their strengths. The aim is to build resilience, enhance wellbeing, positive identity and direction. We do this by giving pupils the opportunity to practice evidence-based interventions from Positive Psychology, using the stories, art and language from classics to inspire and illustrate them. Although in designing the workshops I weave in interventions from Positive Psychology (e.g. learning and talking about character strengths) this is done naturally within the session as part of a lesson in classics - so for the pupils the explicit focus of the class are the classics rather than psychological explorations.
So for example, through the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and the activities on labyrinth-making and walking we learn about the importance of having valuable and inspiring goals and engaging in them; as well as some very important things involved in positive goal pursuit - for example, having good relationships (social skills) and support from (reliable) others; being flexible when setbacks happen (a major component of resilience) - accepting failures along the way and being creative about alternative pathways; understanding the importance of strengths of character (such as perseverance, hope, teamwork and fairness) and how they can tap into their own character strengths to achieve their goals. Pupils have the chance to articulate and engage in their own goals in a playful way."
The workshops were trialled in March, and their success has led to the project being run for "Cheney Plus" pupils as part of a curriculum project. Cheney Plus is a unit within Cheney School where pupils with special needs or those struggling with mainstream school get a personalised curriculum in a dedicated area of the school.
These workshops are the first of their kind, and we are preparing resources through these that will be made available for others to use.