Surely all education should have positive outcomes so what exactly is ‘positive education’? It is defined in a range of ways but essentially focuses on ways that we can use the science of positive psychology to help us to flourish. Historically psychology has focused primarily on fixing aspects of the individual that are going wrong but positive psychology focuses on growth rather than just deficit. This doesn’t mean that things like anxiety, depression and stress are ignored but simply highlights that they are only a part of the bigger equation. Understanding and focusing on our strengths is one of the key elements.
Imagine you are on a sailboat and the boat springs a leak. You will not ignore the leak as you will surely sink. If you only focus on the leak though, you will not go anywhere. You have to use your sails to help you move forward. This analogy is great for understanding the relationship between our strengths (the sails) and our challenges or weaknesses (the leak).
There are six domains identified by Dr Martin Seligman (Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Centre and the founder of ‘positive psychology‘) which are simply a guide of areas to consider when wanting to live the best life possible. They don’t offer any magic solutions but rather help us to be mindful of the areas of life that need attention and energy in order to be a flourishing individual.
Flourish = to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way.
1. Understanding emotions: Opening our eyes to possibilities
We are emotional creatures so helping students to understand the benefits of more positive emotions and strategies for dealing with less positive emotions is an important tool for life.