POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY IN SCHOOLS

Positive Psychology helps students to flourish! It focuses on what is good about the world and what makes life worth living (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). We know that those students who find school a positive experience are not only better positioned to learn at the time but are later more likely to enjoy strong physical and mental health (see Reynoud & Ou, 2010). Findings from recent neuroscience research have also provided overwhelming support for integrating positive approaches in education. However, as the brain pays more attention to negative events than positive ones, teachers must make deliberate effort to consistently provide positive support for students.

Teachers participating in Positive Psychology workshops learn about the powerful role of repeated positive experience on learning and well-being. They discuss ways of creating positive school and classroom climates in which students can develop positive self-beliefs, optimism, strong sense of agency, resilience and trust in the people and the world around them. In the workshops, teachers consider the value of balancing supports and challenges, of seeking success rather than avoiding failure. They discover ways to identify students’ core strengths and social supports that serve as foundations for growing positive qualities and mindsets. Through shared exploration of what is good and what is possible, students and teachers can actively search beyond problem-saturated stories, focusing on the positive events in their lives and building on their unique strengths. Workshop participants discuss the influence of students’ dynamic and multi-layered contexts of development and the implications of these understandings for practice.

Reynolds, A. J., & Ou, S. R. (2010). Early childhood to young adult: An introduction to the special issue. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1045-1053. Doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.03.024

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5