ABOUT POSITIVE EDUCATION
Geelong Grammar School passionately believes in the importance of student and staff wellbeing. The high prevalence of depression among young people worldwide, the well documented small rise in life satisfaction, and the synergy between learning and positive emotion all argue that the skills for wellbeing should be taught in school. There is substantial evidence from empirical studies that skills to increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement and meaning can be successfully taught to schoolchildren and achieve meaningful outcomes.
WHAT IS POSITIVE EDUCATION?
"The time has come for a new prosperity, one that takes flourishing seriously as the goal of education and of parenting. Learning to value and attain flourishing must start early – in the formative years of schooling – and it is this new prosperity, kindled by positive education, that the world can now choose."
Professor Martin Seligman (Flourish, 2011, p.97)
Since 2008, Professor Martin Seligman has been involved in a collaborative project with Geelong Grammar School. This project is recognised as pioneering the development and application of what has come to be defined as Positive Education. Seligman defines Positive Education as traditional education plus approaches that nurture wellbeing and promote mental health. Therefore, a focus on wellbeing within schools entails a holistic approach whereby student accomplishment and wellbeing are both valued objectives that contribute to flourishing. Geelong Grammar School acknowledges what the science of wellbeing brings to education, but also highlights the significant value that best practice teaching brings to the knowledge-transfer process and application of the science in real life settings: "Positive Education brings together the science of positive psychology with best practice teaching to encourage and support schools and individuals within their communities to flourish."
Positive Education at Geelong Grammar School employs implicit and explicit teaching of Positive Psychology skills and principles. A comprehensive overview of the School's Positive Education teaching programme can be found here.
WHAT IS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY?
Traditionally, the fields of psychology and psychiatry have focused more on mental distress and disorder than on human flourishing and positive mental health. Increasingly, there is recognition that good mental and physical health consists of the presence of wellbeing in addition to the absence of pathology and illness. In particular, the emergence of the positive psychology movement has seen a redirection towards the scientific exploration of human wellness and optimal functioning.
Founded by Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, Positive Psychology is an umbrella term for work that investigates happiness, wellbeing, human strengths, and flourishing (Gable & Haidt, 2005). It is based on scientific research and is developed from the belief that people want more than just an antidote to depression. Rather than waiting for depression to occur and then treating the symptoms, Positive Psychology focuses on wellbeing by increasing flourishing through cultivating positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and achievement (Seligman, 2011).