GGS Model of Positive EducationThe GGS Model for Positive Education begins in the centre circle, where it says ‘flourish’. This is the desired outcome we have for our students, staff, parents and wider community.  It is not like a goal that we are actively striving to achieve every day, but we view it more as a by-product, or a healthy consequence of living a life in such a way that nurtures one’s individual wellbeing and contributes to the wellbeing of others.

Flourishing refers to the experience of life going well – when we are feeling good and functioning effectively (Huppert & So, 2012; Seligman, 2011). At Geelong Grammar School we summarise this as ‘feeling good and doing good.’  We like this definition because it captures the hedonistic aspect of flourishing, such as enjoying positive experiences and feeling satisfied with life, as well as the eudaimonic aspects of flourishing, such as having a deeper purpose and serving something greater than oneself.  ‘Feeling good’ refers to experiencing healthy levels of optimism, vitality, emotional stability and resilience. ‘Doing good’ involves caring for others, nurturing positive relationships and using one’s skills and knowledge to contribute meaningfully to society.

Positive Education is based on the premise that what we do matters – that experiencing positive mental health and wellbeing in adolescence, along with learning skills and knowledge that help maintain this positive mental health and address mental health difficulties, will contribute to becoming a fully engaged young adult in society.  This premise was supported empirically through a recent analysis of 1000 participants in the Australian Temperament Project (O’Connor et. al, 2016), one of Australia’s most representative and longest running studies of social and emotional development.  In this study, adolescent mental health was comprised of the six wellbeing domains in the GGS Model: relationships, emotions, health, engagement, accomplishment and purpose. O’Connor and her colleagues (2016) found that positive mental health in adolescence was associated with indicators of career progression and taking on citizenship responsibilities (volunteering and civic activities) over a decade later, at ages 27-28 years old. In this way, Positive Education is all about ‘learning to flourish’.

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Huppert, F., So, T. (2011). Flourishing Across Europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining wellbeing. Social Indicators Research, 110(3), pp 837-861

O'Connor, M., Sanson, A., Toumbourou, J. W., Norrish, J., & Olsson, C. (2016). Does positive mental health in adolescence longitudinally predict healthy transitions in young adulthood? Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-016-9723-3

Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing, London, Free Press.