Whilst AISHK has a prospering community of students, staff and parents, society has come to realise the daily pressures faced by young people and worrying global trends in mental health have recently become headlines. As the world rapidly changes, it makes sense to put energy and focus into ensuring wellbeing is an integral part of all aspects of life. AISHK is excited to be putting an emphasis on Positive Education this year and I hope to briefly outline its development, benefits, and relevance to AISHK. Throughout the year Anthony Murphy, Positive Education Co-ordinator (Secondary) and I will keep you informed with news in relation to Positive Education, and share more about how it affects us as a community.
What is Positive Education?
Positive Education stems from Positive Psychology, a branch of modern psychology. Researchers set about finding out what creates a state of happiness and flourishing in everyday life, shifting focus from curing mental illness, instead, towards its prevention. A major advocate of Positive Education is Prof. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology. His PERMA theory maintains that the pathway to happiness and flourishing is impacted by five principal areas; positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and accomplishment.
Positive Education represents the merging of achievement with wellbeing in schools. It is attained by developing a whole school ethos focusing on emotions, engagement, relationships, purpose, and accomplishment. As a school continues with Positive Education, one hope is that the concepts of achievement and wellbeing should be seen as increasingly interdependent and less as two separate entities. (Find out more about wellbeing here).
If you want to read more about Positive Psychology and its evolution, I recommend the website linked above.
Why Positive Education?
The advantages of Positive Education are evident in its adoption schools and modern pedagogy. In 2008, Prof. Seligman worked closely with Geelong Grammar in Australia to develop a Positive Education model, along with how it could to be practically implemented in schools. Australia has since become a leader in this area, with other schools such as Knox Grammar and St Peter’s College, Adelaide, developing successful Positive Education programmes. Many schools have since adopted the Seligman model or adapted it to include additional elements such as Health (PERMAH).
To evolve our own ongoing practices, we are building on what is already happening within the school, as well as finding innovative ways to implement Positive Education. Embedding it is a process that can take place slowly. We may see small, gradual changes initially, but we see the growth potential being much greater if the whole community is involved.
With a focus on positive, Positive Education is also built to equip individuals with the tools to cope with life’s challenges. In fact, one of the central tenets of Positive Education is to equip individuals for challenges they may be currently facing, as well as those that will inevitably arise in the future. In difficulties, there are situations where teachers and parents need to become involved, while in other instances that may not be the best solution. AISHK sees it as pivotal to provide students with the tools to become resilient problem-solvers and to demonstrate perseverance, confidence, gratitude and perspective. We wish to create an environment in which students can feel a sense of achievement and purpose as they rise to meet their challenges and engage with their families, communities and the wider world.
Positive Education is not just a practice from which students benefit. If we are to get the best out of Positive Education, it needs to be embraced by the whole community. Teachers will be conducting seminars to learn about incorporating Positive Education both professionally and personally. As part of our school community, we encourage you to follow updates in Dhanara and elsewhere to find out more about Positive Education and its benefits. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey with you.
For more research about why Positive Education is important, I recommend the following articles:
- There are the statistics from established organisations such as The World Health Organisation on declining mental health in young people.
- This is the research-based science behind wellbeing and it is.
- When it is implemented successfully, it positively impacts on achievement and expands that concept as opposed to defining it in solely academic terms.
Positive Murals flourish on the walls of AISHK.
Lesley Stewart |Positive Education Co-ordinator (Primary)