What is positive education?
Positive education is the application of the science of positive psychology into the function and work of schools and youth organisations.
The goal of positive education is to create flourishing students, staff and institutions. It provides a framework and language for schools to focus on optimal wellbeing and performance of students, teachers, management and adjunct staff, as well as enhance and strengthen internal and external relationships.
“Teachers are important people – they change lives. Schools are important places – they are where children experience a community dedicated to learning in its broadest sense. A single good teacher who cares and shows they care, who is passionate about children, about learning and about life, can inspire a child and have an influence beyond their own life span.” - Jenny Fox Eades, Centre for Applied Positive Psychology
Why positive education?
Over the last five years a growing number of schools in Australia and overseas have begun to recognise the need to take a broader approach to student development, one that focuses proactively on wellbeing as well as academic achievement by developing the resources of optimism, resilience, collaboration, creativity, motivation and relational skills. Much of this has been in response to the rising statistics on mental health concerns in children and adolescents, and the even higher number of young people who, in the absence of mental illness, are still not flourishing.
Positive psychology interventions have been shown to decrease depressive symptoms and increase general wellbeing. Additionally, research shows that raising levels of wellbeing is synergistic with better learning outcomes and higher academic achievement, simultaneously raising students' creativity, productivity and willingness to contribute to broader societal purposes.
Only when teachers flourish, can students flourish too.
At the same time today's teachers need support to remain motivated and inspired and to gain meaning from their work. Positive education programs that have been introduced in schools both in Australia and overseas have been found to first benefit teachers personally, and then benefit them again by making it easier to get students to engage with and persist in the work they need to do to master academic material. The result is a culture that supports the caring, trusting relationships that distinguish excellent schools from their mediocre peers.
How can we help?
Thriving Mind is a leader in positive education in Australia. Romi Kaufman has trained all of the principals and assistant principals in each of the 27 schools in the DEECD Southern Metropolitan Education region in the application of positive psychology as it relates to schools. She has trained all core and adjunct staff at Swinburne Senior Secondary College and is currently working with Malvern Central School to create a school wide positive education program, training and coaching teachers, facilitating workshops for parents, and advising on curriculum. At the request of The Commonwealth Secretariat, a publication on her Positive Psychology Consultancy Program was recently presented as an example of innovative practice with young people at the 8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (Papua New Guinea, April, 2013).
Romi also co-created with the Black Dog Institute a world first online positive psychology program, BITE BACK, designed to enhance wellbeing in young people. Initial results were recently published and presented at the Commonwealth Heath Ministers Meeting (Geneva, May 2013).
Romi is one of only a handful of fully registered psychologists in Australia formally trained in positive psychology. She was trained directly by the father of positive psychology himself, the University of Pennsylvania's Professor Martin Seligman!
With over 13 years' experience working with youth focused organisations, designing programs and facilitating workshops with young people, as well as training and providing secondary consultation and supervision to teachers and youth professionals, Romi is in a unique position to apply the principles of positive psychology in a way that is both practical and engaging for young people and those who want to see them flourish. Her knowledge is presented in such a way that it facilitates the transition from theory into practice.
For more information on the ways in which Thriving Mind
can help your school or organisation to flourish,
can help your school or organisation to flourish,
"Working with strengths can help keep both you and your students focused on the good of a person, what works, even when things are not necessarily going so well. It is easy to focus on what goes wrong, but using strengths can help you to take a step back from a situation and get a new view. This can help you and your students develop strategies that work with what the person already has, rather than what they need."
- Yeager, Fsher & Shearon
Copyright 2013 Thriving Mind Psychology. All rights reserved. Photo credit - Liana Harding