Following the success of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania and, more recently, at the University of Melbourne, it was exciting for the Institute of Positive Education here at Geelong Grammar School (GGS) to be involved in the launch of the first postgraduate university course in Positive Education in Australia. Offered under the auspices of the new Centre for Positive Psychology at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Professional Certificate in Positive Education is designed to allow participants to explore the latest research, theory and school application emanating from Australia around the world.


I had the opportunity of being a participant in the first course that began in February this year and concluded in June. Justin Robinson, Charlie Scudamore, Paige Williams, Matthew White and Michelle McQuaid were amongst the high calibre lecturers who were led by Associate Professors Dianne Vella-Brodrick and Lea Waters. From the outset, the standard of presentations was excellent and demonstrated a genuine depth of knowledge and breadth of experience that catered for participants with varying degrees of exposure to the field. Participants attended from a range of public and independent schools from Victoria and interstate which allowed for the sharing of diverse viewpoints and discussion. Participants were particularly keen to learn about  the GGS journey and therefore Justin and Charlie’s presentations on the foundational elements of Positive Education provided the perfect platform to start the first subject in the course entitled Introduction to Positive Education. 

The first assignment for the course required participants to articulate, in a five minute video, how positive psychology approaches can make a difference in an education setting. Whilst I enjoyed completing this project, it was certainly very challenging to distill and then succinctly articulate the impact that Positive Education has on the GGS community. Should you wish to read more about this, a copy of my finished assignment can be viewed here.

The second subject, Building Positive Education Communities, explored the key theories and strategies associated with promoting the kind of cultural development necessary for a successful, large-scale implementation of Positive Education within a school. The major assignment required participants to develop a detailed change management plan to support the advancement of such a programme. It was particularly interesting for me to consider the potential power that an ‘appreciative inquiry approach’ can have in galvanising an education community and providing a sense of ownership of direction to its members.

Overall, the course design, reading material, presentations, group discussions, access to highly skilled trainers and challenging assignments all combined to provide a wonderful opportunity to further explore both the current state of Positive Education and the many future possibilities. This is a course that I would certainly recommend to professionals in education who are seeking to understand the potential impacts of Positive Education and for those wishing to develop or expand on programmes within a school.  

The next course is already underway, based at St Peter’s College in Adelaide. Further information about the course can be found here: http://www.commercial.unimelb.edu.au/positiveeducation/


David Bott
Head of Positive Education
Geelong Grammar School

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The Insight Series
The Institute of Positive Education presents the Insight Series - guest lectures designed to inform, inspire and provide insight.


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‘Sonja Lyubomirsky on the Myths of Happiness’ on the Greater Good Podcast Series recorded February 2013 and is accessible here

The Greater Good Science Center has been operating from the University of California, Berkeley, since 2001. The non-profit organisation has a strong commitment to understanding both how science can serve us in better understanding social and emotional wellbeing, as well as how to help others apply findings and insights from science for the betterment of people’s lives.  In this interview leading researcher in Positive Psychology, Sonja Lyubomirsky, discusses her new book, The Myths of Happiness. For example, Lyubomirsky speaks about the two main myths around happiness. One type of myth revolves around our beliefs that happiness is contingent upon some future event, e.g. “I will be happy when I have a house.” Another type of myth refers to our predictions that we will be unhappy if a negative event occurs, e.g. “I will be unhappy if I lose my house.” Lyubomirsky refers to how research has demonstrated that humans are often more resilient than we think.  Over the course of the interview, Lyubomirsky discusses the complexity of pursuing happiness in terms of how individuals differ and the effects of gender, culture and biology.


Recommended reading image

Mindful Learning: Reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning
Dr Craig Hassed & Dr Richard Chambers

Mindful Learning provides a comprehensive guide for educators with varied experience and knowledge of mindfulness practices. The authors map out how mindfulness and education meet through defining and exploring the meaning of terms such as education, mindfulness, learning, attention, stress and memory.  This approach allows us to understand the interconnections and integration between mindfulness and learning suggested in the book’s title Mindful Learning.  Whilst a great deal of practical exercises are provided, the authors go beyond describing and justifying mindfulness as an additional technique or program which needs to be added into the curriculum.  Through interweaving sound research in the fields of learning and mindfulness, the book continually increases our awareness of the effects of being present as an educator. In this way, the book carefully and succinctly outlines how mindfulness is most powerfully learned through both explicit teaching such as training attention and implicit teaching such as role-modelling moment to moment awareness. The authors comment, “Most of what we teach we actually do without awareness.”  This book offers its reader the chance to learn about current research and practice, as well as reflect upon and improve their own lives in terms of teaching, health and home. 

Hassed, C. & Chambers, R. (2014). Mindful Learning: Reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning. Wollombi: Exisle Publishing.