VIA Character strengths.

VIA Character Strengths

VIA Painga Whaiaro

Under the VIA Character Strengths framework, there are 24 different character strengths, and each character strength falls under one of these six broad virtue categories: Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance and Transcendence.

Six virtue categories with the character traits that fall under them



Strengths of thinking and using knowledge

Love of Learning



Strengths of action and will




Interpersonal strength

Social Intelligence



Civic strengths that build community




Strengths of self-restraint




Strengths related to creating meaning

Appreciation of beauty and excellence

Virtue category of Wisdom

  • Creativity

    Creativity is a strength that describes the ability to turn original and imaginative ideas into reality. It involves two processes; thinking, then producing.

    Why does creativity matter?

    Our future will be faced by challenge and constant change. In this context we will need people who can think differently and provide innovative solutions to global problems. In a competitive world, creativity is what fuels innovative ideas, challenges ways of thinking, and opens doors to new opportunities. Creative people have the ability to devise new ways of doing things by solving problems and meeting challenges. Creativity is associated with lateral thinking and the ability to perceive patterns that are not obvious. 

    What does creativity look like?

    Students with creativity might:

    • think differently and consider alternative solutions to problems;

    • create original art, film, music or theatrical performances;

    • enjoy making an idea turn into reality.

    Teachers with creativity might:

    • plan novel and original lessons and make learning happen in a fun way. This could be by using visual thinking, using stories or role plays;

    • share unique ideas that enable students to challenge assumptions;

    • choose novel topics and case studies that make learning enjoyable and emotionally engaging;

    • encourage students to create something in response to their learning

    If you have ideas but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.

  • Curiosity

    Curiosity is all about exploring and discovering.

    Why does curiosity matter?

    Curiosity is about having an open and active mind. Curiosity puts the brain in a state that makes learning more enjoyable. When we are curious, we are open to engaging in new experiences and meeting new people.

    What does curiosity look like?

    Students with curiosity might:

    • try a variety of extra-curricular activities and be willing to participate in different opportunities;

    • ask questions about topics;

    • be interested in other people;

    • enjoy exploring and googling information.

    Teachers with curiosity might:

    • be willing to explore a variety of topics and case studies;

    • ask students about what they would like to learn;

    • have a broad general knowledge.

    "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." 
    Albert Einstein

  • Judgement / Critical Thinking

    Thinking things through logically and examining them from all sides.

    Why does critical thinking matter?

    People who think critically can process information in a deliberate, systematic and logical way. With critical thinking, we analyse and evaluate facts in order to form a clear, rational and evidence-based judgement. Critical thinking is an essential skill and is important for research, problem solving and decision making.

    Critical thinkers challenge assumptions and biases in order to improve their understanding. 

    What does critical thinking look like?

    Students with critical thinking might:

    • apply relevant and well-focused questions to information and opinions;

    • seek clarity, consistency and accuracy;

    • be interested in the causes and implications of events, systems and ideas;

    • question, critique and challenge ideas in class discussions.

    Teachers with critical thinking might:

    • teach with clarity, consistency and accuracy;

    • use their reasoning skills to analyse and evaluate student work;

    • ask questions that require exploration, evaluation or synthesis.

  • Love of Learning

    Enjoying the process of mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge.

    Why does love of learning matter?

    When people enjoy learning, they learn for learning’s sake and are able to persevere even when the task proves difficult or they experience failure. With a love of learning, students are lifelong learners and continue to deepen and broaden their knowledge base.

    What does love of learning look like?

    Students with love of learning might:

    • research information and ask questions;

    • enjoy learning even if the information is not relevant to an assessment;

    • enjoy meeting new people and having conversations that involve learning about new topics.

    Teachers with a love of learning might:

    • have a broad and deep knowledge base;

    • continue to seek knowledge in their subject area by pursuing professional development or study;

    • enjoy learning about the science of teaching and learning;

    • be engaged when learning new information for their lessons.

  • Perspective

    Valuing diverse perspectives and seeing the bigger picture.

    Why does perspective matter?

    People who think with perspective have an open mind and appreciate viewpoints other than their own. This enables them to see the big picture and make important connections. With perspective, you’re good at looking at a situation from different angles, and people appreciate your insight and wisdom and will often seek your counsel.

    What does perspective look like?

    Students with perspective might:

    • excel in subjects that value seeing the ‘big picture’- Geography, History or English;

    • will listen and value different people’s opinions in a discussion;

    • enjoy seeking advice and insight from other people;

    • be willing to support and offer advice to their peers.

    Teachers with perspective might:

    • enjoy teaching about the ‘big picture’ and consider multiple perspectives in their lessons;

    • enjoy strategic planning;

    • be able to provide advice to others and put things in to perspective so that students and colleagues see the wider view.

Virtue category of Courage

  • Honesty

    Presenting yourself in an authentic way.

    Why does honesty matter?

    Honesty is about acting and speaking in ways that reflect what you really think and feel. Honesty is important as it enables us to live by our personal values and not compromise who we are for the sake of others.

    Honesty is about living with integrity and making decisions that are true to who you are.

    What does honesty look like?

    Students with honesty might:

    • share their opinions in class discussions;

    • have clarity around their values;

    • make decisions based on their own values and not be influenced by others;

    • take responsibility for their actions.

    Teachers with honesty might:

    • provide constructive feedback;

    • share their opinions and perspectives;

    • have consistent standards and high moral principles.

    Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no-one is watching.
    C.S Lewis

  • Perseverance

    Persisting towards goals despite challenges. Having grit.

    Why does perseverance matter?

    Perseverance is about having the ability to stay focussed on a goal even when challenges come your way. When you persevere, you know that working hard matters and that life is not always smooth sailing. People who persevere achieve their goals and complete tasks.

    What does perseverance look like?

    Students with perseverance might:

    • develop and deepen their interests through their time at school;

    • stick with commitments, even when it’s difficult;

    • not quit a sport in the middle of the season;

    • revise an essay repeatedly;

    • ask other people for feedback about how they can improve.

    Teachers with perseverance might:

    • seek feedback on their classroom practice;

    • strive every day to do one small thing better than they did it yesterday;

    • set and track goals for their students’ achievement.

  • Zest

    Living life with enthusiasm, energy and anticipation.

    Why does zest matter?

    Zestful people live life wholeheartedly. They approach tasks with enthusiasm and anticipation; and are vivacious and energetic. With zest, people enjoy things more and persevere to achieve challenging tasks.

    It is rare for zestful people to do things half-heartedly- they are alive and activated. Zest is a character strength that is strongly correlated with life satisfaction and positivity. Zest is contagious and cultivates collaboration and positive relationships. 

    What does zest look like?

    Students with zest might:

    • motivate team members to achieve their goals;

    • live in the present and enjoy life;

    • be enthusiastic about their learning;

    • make learning fun. 

    Teachers with zest might:

    • find meaning and purpose in their teaching;

    • be energetic and make learning enjoyable for their students;

    • be enthusiastic to try new things and get fully involved in school life.

  • Bravery

    Not shirking from threat, challenge, difficulty or pain. 

    Why does bravery matter?

    Bravery describes the willingness to rise up, speak up and confront difficult or threatening situations despite feeling vulnerability or fear. It is inevitable that we will feel some discomfort when moving out of our comfort zone. Bravery enables us to evaluate risks then trust the process and move forward anyway. When we are brave, we know we may fail or get hurt but that doesn't stop us showing up and facing adversity. Through bravery we learn and grow. 

    What does bravery look like?

    Students with bravery might:

    • participate in class discussions and offer their opinions;

    • try new activities and experiences;

    • speak out if they disagree with something. 

    Teachers with bravery might:

    • try new ways of teaching their subject area;

    • be willing to speak out;

    • make a decision despite disagreement.

Virtue category of Humanity

  • Social Intelligence

    Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.

    Why does social intelligence matter?

    Social intelligence is about being able to notice and understand the emotions of both yourself and others. People with social intelligence know what to do to fit in different social situations and they can put others at ease. With social intelligence you can build respect, trust and deepen relationships.

    What does social intelligence look like?

    Students with social intelligence might:

    • notice when a classmate is feeling down;

    • be a leader in a collaborative activity;

    • listen to their friends if they have a setback;

    • help people confront a challenge.

    Teachers with social intelligence might:

    • know how their emotions impact on their classroom climate;

    • support their colleagues;

    • get to know parents and make them feel valued in the learning process;

    • make students feel valued and listened to.

  • Kindness

    Doing good deeds for others and taking care of them.

    Why does kindness matter?

    With kindness you are enthusiastic to do favours for others. Kindness is about generosity, care and compassion. You’ re generous to others for their sake and don’t expect any personal benefit. Kindness is a strength that builds community, connection and well-being.

    What does kindness look like?

    Students with kindness might:

    • help a classmate that is finding a task to be difficult;

    • share their notes or ideas;

    • enjoy participating in community service projects;

    • coach a sporting team or become a peer mentor.

    Teachers with kindness might:

    • share resources and knowledge with their colleagues;

    • contribute to an extra curricular activity or a community service project;

    • take extra time to teach and tutor students;

    • talk through a problem with a colleague or student.

  • Love

    Valuing close relations with others.

    Why does love matter?

    When love is a strength, you value being close to people and have the capacity to cultivate strong relationships where caring and sharing is reciprocated. Whether it be family members, colleagues or friends, you value and prioritise the close relationships you have in your life. The capacity to develop strong and supportive relationships is vital for our overall well-being and resilience. Research shows that, in the end, it is relationships that matter most in creating a flourishing life. 

    What does love look like?

    Students with love might:

    • have a close group of friends that they spend a lot of time with;

    • develop close relationships with a teacher or mentor;

    • enjoy spending time with family.

    Teachers with love might:

    • form strong relationships;

    • create a caring and supportive classroom environment;

    • take extra time to teach and tutor students;

    • be interested in others.

Virtue category of

  • Teamwork

    Working well as a member of a group or team

    Why does teamwork matter?

    Collaborative skills are vital at school and in the workplace. A person strong in the teamwork strength can develop trust, communicate effectively and appreciate a diversity of ideas when contributing to a group effort. They are socially responsible, loyal and value contributing. Teamwork is about citizenship and seeing yourself as part of a larger whole.

    What does teamwork look like?

    Students with teamwork might:

    • flourish in a leadership role;

    • enjoy participating in group activities and team sports;

    • value participating in community service activities;

    • form relationships with a wide variety of people.

    Teachers with teamwork might:

    • enjoy collaborating with colleagues when developing units or marking work;

    • participate in committees and subject associations;

    • lead other teachers in their subject area.

  • Leadership

    Positively influencing others.

    Why does leadership matter?

    Leadership is a vital for any organisation or group of people. Leaders encourage and motivate people to take action, while at the same time maintaining positive and respectful relations with people in the group. Leaders organise group activities and make things happen.

    What does leadership look like?

    Students with leadership might:

    • enjoy working with others towards a common goal;

    • be interested in others and value their ideas and opinions;

    • have a vision for what a group of people can achieve and express their ideas effectively;

    • be respected by their peers and make others feel valued.

    Teachers with leadership might:

    • enjoy leading change;

    • feel accomplishment when they positively impact others;

    • think up projects and ideas that could improve teaching and learning.

  • Fairness

    Treating all people the same.

    Why does fairness matter?

    When people value fairness they believe in equal opportunity for all. Fairness is a moral value that emphasises the importance of treating all people the same. People that have fairness as a strength will not let personal feelings bias their decisions about others and will always give people a fair chance. This strength is related to kindness, justice and moral reasoning.

    What does fairness look like?

    Students with fairness might:

    • stand up against unjust behaviour;

    • form positive relationships with a wide variety of people;

    • have a strong opinion on justice and moral issues.

    Teachers with fairness might:

    • create a classroom environment that is fair and consistent;

    • not be influenced by others’ ideas and opinions;

    • have strong morals that they role model in their lessons.

Virtue category of Temperance

  • Self-control

    Controlling your actions, thoughts and feelings to meet your goals.

    Why does self-control matter?

    People with self-control remain in charge of what they think, their actions and the feelings they experience. It is about being disciplined in order to meet the goals you have set for yourself.

    What does self-control look like?

    Students with self-control might:

    • meet deadlines before time;

    • come organised to class;

    • listen to others;

    • regulate their emotions;

    • resist procrastination.

    Teachers with self-control might:

    • role model the behaviours that are expected of students;

    • commit to a schedule for marking assessments;

    • be consistent by regulating their emotions;

    • follow through on their learning plans in a structured way.

  • Humility

    The ability to accurately perceive and evaluate yourself – including your strengths and weaknesses.

    Why does humility matter?

    Humility is about seeing the concept of yourself within the ‘bigger picture’ of the world. You do not regard yourself as more special that anyone else and do not seek the spotlight. Humility is about modesty and letting your accomplishments speak for themselves.

    What does humility look like?

    Students with humility might:

    • keep a positive focus on their team and classmates;

    • downplay their achievements;

    • be respected by their peers for having a focus outside of themselves.

    Teachers with humility might:

    • celebrate the achievements of their students and peers and let others shine;

    • ask questions about others;

    • work collaboratively as part of a team.

  • Prudence

    The ability to think carefully and plan for the attainment of long term goals.

    Why does prudence matter?

    Prudence is about being careful with one's choices. People strong in prudence think and act in ways that are conducive to the attainment of long term goals and aspirations. They plan for the future and carefully consider how their decisions will affect outcomes. This involves the ability to regulate behaviours and emotions in the short term so they do not impact on long term goals. Prudent people do not take undue risks and will not do or say things that could be regretted later. This strength is related to careful and wise decision making. 

    What does prudence look like?

    Students with prudence might:

    • revise and plan for their assessments and examinations;

    • be organised and prepared for class and deadlines;

    • be responsible and always follow through on commitments.

    Teachers with prudence might:

    • assess student work carefully;

    • meet all deadlines and take their professional role as a teacher seriously;

    • plan their units of work carefully.

  • Forgiveness

    The ability to accept the shortcomings of others and to move on from challenges.

    Why does forgiveness matter?

    Forgiveness is about giving people a second chance after they have done wrong. People strong in this strength prefer to move on after a transgression. They value harmonious relationships and do not focus on the wrongdoings or shortcomings of other people. Forgiveness is important in building relationships as it releases judgement and allows people to grow and change.

    What does forgiveness look like?

    Students with forgiveness might:

    • focus on the positives of people and be accepting;

    • make others feel valued;

    • be empathetic and understanding.

    Teachers with forgiveness might:

    • create a positive and safe class environment where all students feel valued and accepted;

    • move on from any transgressions in class;

    • focus on the positives and strengths of students.

Virtue category of Transcendence

  • Hope

    Expecting and taking action towards a positive future.

    Why does hope matter?

    Hope is about seeing the world as ‘glass half full’ and having positive expectations for the future. When you are hopeful, you have goals for the future, you believe they will be achieved, and you behave in such a way that promotes the realisation of your beliefs. Optimistic people have broad perspectives, take action to attain their goals and believe they can make positive things happen in their lives.

    What does hope look like?

    Students with hope might:

    • think positively about their learning and assessment and take action to achieve pleasing results;

    • see possibilities in the future and have plans for what they would like to achieve;

    • support others in an optimistic way; hope is contagious.

    Teachers with hope might:

    • see potential in students and create plans to make things happen;

    • support colleagues with optimistic perspectives;

    • have a vision for how a subject could improve in the future.

  • Gratitude

    Being aware and thankful for the good things that happen in life.

    Why does gratitude matter?

    When you are grateful you look for the good in the world and appreciate things that happen to you, or are given to you, which positively influence your life.

    Gratitude is a strength that works as an antidote to our negative emotions. By noticing and appreciating the good things in life, we focus on and appreciate the present moment. Looking at the world with gratitude makes us participate in life; to live in the now. 

    Gratitude is always a choice. It’s about appreciation, not expectation

    What does gratitude look like?

    Students with gratitude might:

    • form strong relationships with others through expressing their gratitude;

    • focus on what is going well in their lives;

    • express gratitude to their teachers, parents and coaches and know that their success depends on the support of others.

    Teachers with gratitude might:

    • celebrate what is going well;

    • see the strengths in students and praise them for their efforts

    • feel grateful for the opportunities that teaching provides to connect with students in a meaningful way.

    “Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbours build their philosophy of life”.

  • Appreciation of Beauty

    Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and skilled performance in various domains of life.

    Why does appreciation of beauty and excellence matter?

    Appreciation of beauty and excellence relates to the human tendency to feel powerful transcendent emotions when noticing beauty in the world. This may be experienced as feelings of awe, wonder or elevation. People with this strength love the arts- music, literature or art. They are easily moved by nature, spiritual experiences or even a beautiful mathematics equation. This strength is outward looking; when people experience awe they can have a broader sense of perspective in their personal lives, a deeper sense of connection to humanity and a renewed sense of purpose. 

    What does appreciation of beauty and excellence look like?

    Students with appreciation of beauty and excellence might:

    • enjoy creating art, music, writing or films;

    • be inspired by seeing exemplars of fine work or art;

    • enjoy time in nature;

    • praise their peers and appreciate strengths in other people.

    Teachers with appreciation of beauty and excellence might:

    • use excellent examples to inspire their students;

    • provide positive feedback to students who excel;

    • create a beautiful environment for students to learn in;

    • teach their subject within a broad perspective of the world.

  • Humour

    The ability to generate and appreciate the 'lighter side' of the moment.

    Why does humour matter?

    Humour relates to the ability to experience and ignite laughter in others. People strong in the humour strength are able to see the lighter side in a situation. Humour is a ubiquitous, highly ingrained, and largely meaningful aspect of the human experience and therefor is a highly valued trait. People with humour as a strength make strong connections with others and can build positive relationships. Humour also contributes to both our physical and psychological well-being and boosts positivity and optimism. There is research that indicates that humour is often the springboard for creativity in the workplace.

    What does humour look like?

    Students with humour might:

    • enjoy offering laughter to others in class discussions;

    • enjoy playing and being creative;

    • build positivity with their peer group, even in stressful times.

    Teachers with humour might:

    • provide memorable learning experiences for students;

    • create a learning environment that is positive, fun and playful;

    • be a valued team member and colleague.

  • Spirituality

    Having beliefs about the meaning and purpose of the world we live in.

    Why does spirituality matter?

    Spirituality relates to the ability to hold coherent beliefs about the 'big picture' meaning and purpose of the world we live in. People who have spirituality as a strength have a clear idea of how they fit within the larger scheme. These beliefs shape their values and provide faith. Research indicates that spirituality is a strength that is strongly correlated with higher life satisfaction. A more expansive view of the world is associated with increased gratitude, compassion, a greater sense of connection and understanding of meaning and purpose. 

    What does spirituality look like?

    Students with spirituality might:

    • be able to put challenging situations into perspective;

    • understand how they are connected to others and act in compassionate ways;

    • enjoy having time to connect with the sacred.

    Teachers with spirituality might:

    • provide wise counsel to students;

    • find meaning and purpose in their vocation and live true to their values;

    • enjoy making a contribution to others.