Positive psychology is the scientific study of strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is based on the belief that people want to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life, cultivate the best in themselves and enhance their experiences of love, work and leisure.
What is truly caring education?
Positive education is, first and foremost, the combination of traditional education and the study of happiness and well-being. The fundamental goal of positive education is to promote thriving or positive mental health within the school community. Students celebrate their strengths and learn to master skills that do not come naturally. They will practice the ability to bounce back from adversity and persevere when things get tough. These characteristics are more commonly referred to as courage and resilience. A school program that incorporates wellness will ideally prevent depression, increase life satisfaction, encourage social responsibility, foster creativity and learning, and even improve academic performance. Positive education is not about pretending that you don’t have problems, nor is it about being happy all the time. It’s about having a realistic view of life and having additional skills and tools to deal with difficult times and challenges. Caring education therefore has a positive impact on students’ academic performance and boosts life skills.
Why measure school well-being?
In many schools, staffs as well as students are disengaged and morale is low, but the school principal does not know the full extent of this, as it is not regularly and comprehensively assessed. Many schools and wider school communities today seek to ensure measure and improve the well-being of their staff and students through positive education. Empirical research confirms a strong correlation between high levels of work and academic engagement and high levels of work, productivity, achievement and success. Just as you track overall academic performance in school, it is important to also track general well-being and the aspects that build and promote well-being, so that you can visualize the strengths and weaknesses of different groups within the school and determine the effectiveness of well-being initiatives. Even if your school does not have a positive education or wellness initiative, it is very useful to obtain baseline data to guide you in the future.
Positive education and wellness
The focus on the development of children’s well-being is doubled. On the one hand, many Western countries are facing an unprecedented increase in depression and anxiety disorders, not only among children but also among adolescents. On the other hand, a substantial body of research documents the benefits of well-being and positive individual characteristics. Research shows that happy people are successful in many areas of life, including marriage, relationships, health, longevity, income, and educational and occupational outcomes. They are more creative, able to accomplish many things at once and can handle boring tasks. They are more confident, helpful and outgoing. In addition, recent studies show that schools that teach about happiness perform better academically than those that teach a more standard health curriculum. Focusing on wellness is therefore an advantage, even when it is the school’s primary mission. This is why it is said that well-being is largely achieved through positive education.