Justin Robinson

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It is with a full range of emotions that I pen my thoughts on this milestone that Geelong Grammar School has reached in pioneering the field of Positive Education.  Fortunately, I understand that experiencing a full range of emotions is normal, natural and a part of living a rich, full and meaningful life.  I do care, we do care, deeply about our work in Positive Education and we are so excited and proud to be at this point in our journey, and we feel the ongoing challenges that are facing our education system and the difficulties and levels of ill-being still faced by many in our communities.  

The following blog starts by expressing our gratitude for those who have contributed so enormously to our journey, it then shares ten short thoughts on Positive Education, showcases some of the key public events we have coming up in 2018 which you are all warmly invited to and concludes by introducing our hope of celebrating and recognizing educators in the field who are continuing to champion and pioneer the field of Positive Education.
We hope you can feel our passion, and our gratitude, and we wish you every ongoing success with your endeavours.

Immense heart-felt gratitude 

I would personally like to thank so many individuals and groups of people who have so richly contributed to the development of Positive Education at Geelong Grammar School (GGS), or who have enabled the growth of our Institute of Positive Education or who have deeply influenced the field of Positive Education.  The list is vast and includes the following groups of people:

  • The school leaders at GGS who have enabled, resourced and supported the implementation of Positive Education
  • The team of inspiring pioneers from the University of Pennsylvania, led by Professor Martin Seligman, Dr. Karen Reivich and Dr. James Pawelski, who introduced us to the field of Positive Psychology
  • The national and international leaders in the field who have visited GGS and enriched our knowledge and understanding of their field of expertise
  • The teachers at GGS who have designed, trialed and delivered elements of Positive Education within their teaching and within their own lives
  • The students at GGS who have been open to learning new skills and knowledge and have provided extensive feedback along with creative ideas for implementing Positive Education
  • The parents at GGS who have attended courses and warmly embraced the common language of Positive Education for their personal benefit and for the benefit of their children
  • The generous philanthropic donors that have supported our ongoing relationship with leaders in the field and enabled new initiatives and cutting-edge research to be conducted
  • The dedicated staff within the Institute who have created resources, delivered courses, communicated messages and researched causes, all under our mission of making a positive contribution to the world
  • The researchers from leading universities who have helped, and continue to help, us understand the active ingredients and the impact of Positive Education
  • The leaders of our thriving National association – PESA (Positive Education Schools Association) and our flourishing International association – IPEN (International Positive Education Network)
  • The thousands of educators around the world who have passionately implemented Positive Education within their own unique setting

Ten thoughts on Positive Education

Where do you start, what do you include, what do you omit when given the challenge of providing ten specific thoughts on Positive Education?  My immediate response was could I have twenty thoughts, and the answer was no!  My next question was could I have a page to articulate each thought, and the answer again was no!  (The more extensive answer was maybe one day I could have a page on each thought, or we could hold a discussion or host a podcast on each thought, but at this stage we are just wanting the kernel of the idea – so stay tuned!)  
After much deliberation I have gone with the following ten thoughts on Positive Education, which I hope you will find interesting and helpful.  We would love to hear your feedback, your questions, or just love to hear other thoughts you have about this growing field we are so passionate about.

  1. Positive Education is more of a philosophy than a program.  It is a way of living, a way of teaching, a way of dealing with mistakes, a way of nurturing a sense of belonging and a sense of community…
  2. Positive Education is an evidence-based, strengths-based, proactive, whole-school approach to nurturing individual and community wellbeing.  It is the combination of these four elements which makes Positive Education innovative.
  3. Staff wellbeing is a vital ingredient to the success of Positive Education.
  4. Positive Education is helping us to educate the whole child.
  5. Whilst we believe flourishing is a combination of ‘feeling good and doing good’, we also believe it is helpful for us to think of flourishing more from a caring orientation, rather than a feeling orientation.  Our goal isn’t to feel good, our goal is to do good – to care for others, to care for causes and to care for one self.
  6. Positive Education is sowing seeds for life.  Some of these seeds will germinate straight away and some seeds may lie dormant for a period of time before germinating, and some seeds may never germinate.  Our goal is to sow seeds generously.
  7. Borrowing a tagline from IPEN, Positive Education is not preparing students for a life of tests, but instead is preparing students for the tests of life.   
  8. Positive Education is an ongoing journey requiring the hearts, hands and minds of one’s school community.  Remember to enjoy the journey.
  9. Doing Positive Education well is really hard …. and really fun!  Whilst the importance of our work is vital, we can and should ensure our work around wellbeing is playful and engaging.
  10. The four cyclical and related processes of Learn, Live, Teach and Embed are critical to the success of implementing Positive Education (link to article)
  11. It is important to remember that wellbeing is both taught and caught.  It is critical for us to role-model behaviours in line with wellbeing and to consider the impact our school environment is having in helping or hindering the key elements of Positive Education.
  12. Positive Education is the science of education at its best.   


Exciting public events to celebrate our Decade of Positive Education

We have planned, or are in the process of planning, the following public events in 2018 to help us celebrate our Decade of Positive Education.  We hope we can see you at any or all of these events throughout the year.

  1. 4th PESA Conference – April 11th – 14th hosted at Geelong Grammar School (click for more)
    This conference will bring together over 30 leading national and international presenters, and over 500 educators from around Australia and the world.  Come and live on campus with us for three days, enjoy a retreat style conference with full day and evening activities:  amazing keynotes, inspiring masterclasses, innovative workshops, mystery events, wellbeing activities, fireside conversations and more… Check out the conference website and come and ‘CONNECT’ with like-minded educators and pioneers in the field of Positive Education. 
  2. A wellbeing conversation with Professor Martin Seligman – April 16th (more information coming soon)
    Come and listen to the founder and father of Positive Psychology as he shares his insights from his devotion to understanding the science of humans at their best.
  3. Two day ‘Relationship Gold’ workshop facilitated by Toni Powell – May 14th & 15th (click for more)
    A rare opportunity to embrace the warmth and wisdom of Toni Powell as she shares insights into how we can create and sustain effective, close relationships with family, friends, colleagues and partners.  Held at The Cargo Hall, Docklands.  
  4. Two day Resilience workshop guided by Dr. Karen Reivich (more information coming soon)
    Karen Reivich has inspired our school community since 2008 when she was the Master trainer from the University of Pennsylvania responsible for introducing Resilience and Positive Psychology to our community.  She returns in 2018 to help us celebrate our decade, and will offer a powerful and inspiring two day adult workshop on Resilience.
  5. Insight series presentation with Dr. Tony Fernando – October 8th (more information coming soon)
    Tony is an international expert on compassion, and his evening lecture will be titled ‘Compassion is Happiness’.  Tony will discuss the evolutionary significance and the biology and psychology of compassion.  He will also share specific techniques for enhancing individual and community compassion.
  6. Positive Education research discoveries – November (more information coming soon)
    Over the past ten years with the support of independent research experts GGS has undertaken extensive research to help understand the impact of Positive Education.  This evening will showcase the insights we have learned with presentations from Dr. Dianne Vella-Brodick, Dr. Bill Hallam and Dr. Georgiana Cameron.

Celebrating Pos Ed pioneers

As part of our celebration of ten years of Positive Education we would love to highlight the pioneering work of fellow educators and leaders in the field.  We wish to congratulate, acknowledge and highlight some of the amazing work we have seen occurring within the field of Positive Education.  It is a privilege to visit schools, to understand their wellbeing journey and strategic plans and to assist where we can with articulating elements of Positive Education.  We are calling on our Friends of the Institute to nominate someone from their school who has significantly influenced the wellbeing of their school community.  Share their story and commend their contribution with us.  We will celebrate all entries we receive and also shine a spotlight on ten amazing Positive Education pioneers who have made a unique and lasting contribution to the wellbeing of their community.  More information will be forthcoming and nominations will open in March.

Looking to the future

It is such an exciting time for Positive Education and it is an ongoing privilege for our team at the Institute to make an ongoing contribution to education which promotes placing wellbeing at the heart of learning.  We are still ‘Learning to Flourish’ and we look forward to the next ten years of Positive Education with hope, purpose and excitement.

With deep gratitude,

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