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WEEK 4 – Committing to the plan

Are you ready to commit to practicing the the four stages of virtue education?

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The plan for virtue education that is used in this site does not have claims to originality. Rather, it uses well-consolidated practices in educating virtue,  representing them in a four-stage approach that is easily understood and applied.

The plan is envisioned over 28 weeks or practice, and the four stages below are outlined within this scheduled time-frame.

A four stage plan


Duration: four weeks (Weeks 1-4)

This is the first stage, that you should have concluded at this point (since you are in Week 4).  This stage is mostly about theory and helps you understand what virtue education is, how it works, why it is important and where it is rooted.

Adults need to be aware of how they are growing in order to grow, and that is why some basic understanding about character and virtue is the first essential step.

Only basic content has been selected in this initial phase, in order to allow you to complete it in a relatively short time.  But it is a good idea to learn as much about virtue as you can during the entire project (perhaps choose a good book on virtue to keep on your bedside or work through some of the Additional resources that are suggested at the end of each week). You will be engaging with more content in Phase 3 with a special focus on understanding specific virtues.

#2 – TEST

Duration: four weeks (Weeks 5-8)

Once  you have achieved a basic understanding of virtue education, you are ready to self-assess your character.  A unique Virtue Test has been designed in this site that will allow you to evaluate your character against 13 virtues.

The test itself only takes about 30 minutes, but during this phase you also be helped to understand how the test is designed and what you can expect from it, and how to interpret your results.

At the end of this stage, you will be led to make a commitment to work on one particular virtue.


Duration: sixteen weeks (9-24)

This is the most practical stage and will take the longest.  It is also the stage where it is easiest to give up.

You will begin by designing a plan to facilitate growth in your chosen virtue. Then you will be given a multi-faceted set of tools that will help you intentionally work on your character.  Don’t worry if you are not be familiar with words like ‘habituate’, ‘critical friendship’ or ‘virtue literacy’… Explanations will be provided.

During this stage, you will receive specific guidance every week on how to use these tools, as well as more content to help you understand specific virtues.

This phase is designed as an incubation period in which your character will slowly change.


Duration: four weeks (25-28)

Genuine formation includes reflective practice, and that is what you will do in this fourth stage of virtue education.

You will begin by taking the Virtue Test again and comparing your results with those in Phase 2 (before the intensive practice stage).  Hopefully, you will growth in your chosen virtue.

To consolidate your growth, you will be instructed to engage in a piece of reflective writing where you will look back on how you have grown and look forward to consider new areas of virtue education in your life.

Phase 4 ends with having a celebration and making plans for next steps.

Your commitment

Ready? Before you make a commitment, it might be useful to go through this checklist:

  • Do you want to act virtuously? Being a virtuous person starts with desiring the right state of affairs.  Have you thought this through? Do you really want to be move away from vice and be more virtuous?
  • Do you have the right motivation?  It is not sufficient to orient your desires toward virtue, your motivation also needs to be virtuous. Don’t choose virtue for utilitarian or guilt-driven motivations. Rather choose to be virtuous as to flourish as a human being and as an expression of love toward God, neighbour and yourself.
  • Are you willing to be accountable? Virtue education is hard-fought, and you may need to make a covenant in a community to help you as you fight for virtue in your life.
  • Are you available to bear the pain of change?  Educating your character in virtue might involve physical pain  (for example, deriving from physical exercise) or relational pain. Are you willing to pay the cost?
  • And finally, will you be constant? Constancy is a foundational virtue and through it virtue education will either succeed or fail.  In choosing a project of virtue education, do you commit to finish it even if you may get tired, distracted or not see immediate results? Are you

If you’ve said yes to the questions above, then make a commitment in writing  by completing the suggested sentences below.

  • I really want to be more virtuous.  In particular…
  • My motivation to be more virtuous is…
  • For me, being accountable about my character growth…
  • Change will be difficult, but I think that…
  • Concerning constancy, here is what I think…

If you are working with a group, share it with others to whom you want to be accountable. This is a good place to remind you of the possible different Contexts of Practice in which you may find yourself as they will impact the way you carry out your plan and how you express your commitment both in terms of scheduling and of accountability (should your context be one in which you are committing to the plan as a group).

Additional resources

  • Reflections from the Christian Scriptures on Being Stiff-necked and how this vice can impact your commitments
  • Seneca wrote the following advice to his pupil Lucilius: ‘Do not run hither and thither and distract yourself by changing your abode; for such restlessness is the sign of a disordered spirit’ (Seneca). More on the Vice of Restlessness that opposes the kind of constancy needed to maintain your commitment to this plan.

You have now completed phase #1 – Envision, please take a moment to provide your feedback on your experience so far.
You are ready to move onto phase #2 – Test 



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