Rediscovering the Pedagogical Power of Narnia


C. S. Lewis’s fiction can teach virtue, according to a new curriculum. But the true potential is so much more.

My mother read The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother and me at night, while the four of us—my father half-listening while reading a novel of his own—lay on my parents’ enormous bed. I remember such strong emotions with the series. When we got to The Last Battle, the final installment, I felt warm affection for the foolish donkey Puzzle, grief at the fall of Narnia, sharp frustration at the dwarves who couldn’t see the truth of a remarkable feast set before them.

As a parent myself now and a teacher and an Anglican priest, I’ve been revisiting the Lewis of my childhood. What did I learn in Narnia? What virtues did I come to value on the other side of that wardrobe? How powerful is Narnia at moving, molding, and directing young hearts?

Quite, according to a new character curriculum, Narnian Virtues. Designed by education professors Mark Pike and Thomas Lickona, the curriculum teaches “universal virtues” to children ages 10 to 14 using The Chronicles of Narnia. It is supported in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and has been taught at a variety of schools, both secular and Christian, as part of a pilot program designed to test the possibility of teaching virtue.

According to the educators’ vision, this program is not aimed at behavior management, which is often taught in schools. Rather, it is designed to teach students “to know the good, to love the good, and to do the good.” As the literature says, it is premised on the belief that “the Narnia novels have the capacity to motivate a wide range of readers to make efforts to develop the will as well as the skill needed for good character.”

The qualitative results of the pilot program show …

Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico