We welcome schools of all faiths and none to join the project and look forward to learning from the schools and students themselves about how a religious or faith identity informs readings of the Narnia novels and participation in the Narnian Virtues project.
Reading and Believing
Good character is for everyone, and the Narnian Virtues Curriculum is designed for all schools, whether secular or faith-based, and for a wide range of children from different families and communities. Laura Miller shows us in The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, that Narnia is not just for Christians.
‘It is certainly possible’, Lickona states, ‘to be an ethical person without being religious, and having faith by no means guarantees that a person will be good. But for many persons, religion gives life a higher meaning and an ultimate reason for leading a moral life’ (2004, p. 57).
We (Pike, Lickona and Nesfield, 2015) have observed an interesting phenomenon during this project: in class in secular state schools, Muslim children drew upon their faith in thinking about and practising virtue, but the Christian children did not. For instance, when discussing self-control as a class, the Muslim young people referred to Ramadan and the self-discipline that fasting required. Only afterwards in interviews and in writing did it become clear that Christian children did, in fact, draw on their faith in their character development.
We feel it is important for young people, if they so choose, to bring what they ‘believe in’ to their character development. Consequently, it is important that students for whom a faith commitment is important should not feel obliged to ‘secularise’ their responses and to leave their beliefs and faith out of their efforts to develop good character.
To ensure that students feel free to draw on all their beliefs when they reflect on their character, we’d appreciate your offering them the following explicit encouragement:
You have complete freedom of expression in this curriculum. We want you to respond as a whole person. You have a right as a student to bring in all of your beliefs, including your religious beliefs, when you speak and write about your character and what gives you the knowledge and strength to do the right thing.