You walk your five year old through the courtyard, down the halls to their first day at school. They have a new backpack (usually almost as big as they are) filled with indoor shoes, outdoor shoes, rain gear, pencils, markers. They have a level of enthusiasm (or occasionally trepidation) that is off the charts. Many moms are crying. Some are cheering, either silently or not so silently. We place the trust in educators to care for and educate our most precious things but is today’s education really supportive of what parents want for their children?
In a brief survey conducted in 2017 parents were asked what they wanted for their children at school. The answers included success, socialization, opportunities, and achievement. It also included happiness almost 100% of the time yet most school curriculum don’t have happiness in the timetable. The best schools are touching on wellness, resilience, and mindfulness but very few have taken the leap and added lessons about how take care of personal well-being, positive mental health, or happiness.
Positive Psychology is the science of flourishing. Most mental health practitioners are there to provide interventions and medications when mental health is absent; when flourishing isn’t happening. The problem being absence of mental illness does not mean happiness (known in the science world as subjective well-being).
The question I have been pondering is this; if parents want their children to be happy and science has proven simple strategies that increase happiness, isn’t school (the place where children spend the bulk of their time between age 5 and 17) the perfect place to get happier?
What can positive education do?The statistics are staggering. Positive education increases creativity, engagement, learning outcomes and happiness while simultaneously combating depression, anxiety, and low self-worth.
How?By focusing on a child’s character strengths (these are scientific and testable) you actually boost their ability to get and stay happy, resilient, creative and focused.
My next few blogs will be devoted entirely to Positive Psychology and Positive Education. If you are a teacher, administrator, or a parent you are going to want to know about Positive Education and specifically hear about a unique relationship I am forming with the Institute of Positive Education. Big change is coming to the way we learn happiness!