Teaching Matters

PS9 R2a Connecting through language: Introducing a language of virtues

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Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 2 December 20202 Dec 2020


Connecting through language: Introducing a language of virtues


  • Toby Newstead, Discipline of Management, COBE
  • Megan Short, School of Education, CALE



Presentation Type

Lightning Presentation


Room 2




We connect through communication, and recently our ways of communicating have been drastically altered. In this new teaching and learning landscape, many of us are still in near-constant communication, but it now occurs through technologically-mediated platforms. When we communicate through channels that lack the richness of non-verbal cues, the language we use becomes paramount.

In this lightening session, we present “a language of virtues” as a way to foster greater connectedness with students, peers, and self. Virtues such as courage, fairness, creativity, and compassion are the building blocks of moral character (Newstead, Macklin, Dawkins, & Martin, 2018). Virtues are inherently human, learnable, and universal; they are the connective tissues that bind peoples and communities together (Newstead, Dawkins, Macklin, & Martin, 2019). A language of virtues is deeply human; it speaks to the person, not the task or outcome. A language of virtues can inform our communication with students, peers, and self.

Instead of saying to a student, ‘good job on this assessment’, one might say, ‘I can see the diligence and creativity you put into this’. Instead of saying to a typically reserved peer, ‘nice work raising that contentious issue in the meeting’, one might say, ‘I appreciate the courage it took to raise that issue’. And instead of saying to oneself, ‘I sure messed that up’, one might say, ‘I’ve got the resilience and determination to do better next time’.

Our lightning session will explain what virtues are, what virtues language is, and how virtues language may be used in communication with students, peers, and self.


Newstead, T., Dawkins, S., Macklin, R., & Martin, A. (2019). The Virtues Project: An approach to developing good leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, online (in press). http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04163-2

Newstead, T., Macklin, R., Dawkins, S., & Martin, A. (2018). What is virtue? Advancing the conceptualization of virtue to inform positive organizational inquiry. Academy of Management Perspectives, 32(4), 443-457. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amp.2016.0162

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