Knightly Tales Teach Timeless Virtues

Courtesy of the Knightly Virtues program
Courtesy of the Knightly Virtues program

Classic stories often contain rich explorations of character and virtues. These resources, loved by children and adults alike, have been developed into the Knightly Virtues educational program at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. The program offers materials to help nine- to eleven-year-olds enjoy tales such as those of King Arthur and Don Quixote while learning about virtues, including gratitude, honesty, and humility, as well as to think about their own virtues of character.

About 5,000 young people from across the UK took part in the Knightly Virtues program between September 2012 and May 2014. A new online film captures the engagement of parents, teachers, and the students themselves. “I thought it was a very good program,” remarks Ann Jones of St. Joseph’s Cathedral School, Swansea. “The children: they thought it was amazing. And because they thought it was very good, you thought, yes: you’re on to a winner here.”

The goal of the Knightly Virtues program is to promote a deeper understanding of virtues and to cultivate good character. The narratives are selected to represent both heroes and heroines and those of different traditions and faiths. Each of the narratives has been rewritten to fit with the program and to be suitable for a young audience so that the students may be empowered to practice honorable character virtues in their own lives.

The impact of the program has been tested using several rigorous research methods including an experimental trial. The findings provide substantial empirical evidence for the effectiveness of using stories to develop virtue literacy—which is understood as the knowledge, understanding, and application of virtue language. The research report will be published by the Jubilee Centre in October.