POS ED IN THE COMMUNITY

On Sunday 7 September 2014 the first Positive Education in the Community course was run at the Corio campus with nearly 90 OGGs and friends. The Institute of Positive Education was delighted to be able to offer this one-day course which had been requested by the Old Geelong Grammarian Association earlier in the year. The morning began with a welcome and introduction from Charlie Scudamore, Vice Principal, and continued with an overview of Positive Education and an explanation of how the GGS Positive Education Model is applied in the classroom. This provided an insight into our programme for students and the importance of equipping and supporting teachers to deliver ‘Pos Ed’ in an authentic way as part of a whole school approach.  

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Led by Justin Robinson, Director of the Institute, and Janis Coffey, Associate Director of the Institute, the attendees were quickly engaged in the materials through an icebreaker activity and introduction to the course materials. Training began with the concept of mindfulness and reflection, working in pairs and as part of a broader audience.  Our training team use a combination of video, music, oral presentation, personal reflection and contemplation and group work. This approach enables attendees to engage more with the concepts discussed and gain practice using the tools.  

The second half of the morning was dedicated to a session on the importance of nurturing positive relationships and an explanation of the Active Constructive Responding (ACR) technique taught to our students. This was a powerful reminder of how important our reactions and interactions with others are and the impact they can have on relationships.  

Over lunch there was ample opportunity for discussion among attendees whose views ranged from passionate advocate to interested sceptic. There was some lively conversation and a chance to chat with presenters before heading back to the Darling Hall to explore the concept of Character Strengths, an approach that underpins our Positive Education programme. This is an important focus early on in the School’s programme as it provides a foundation for many of the other skills students will learn, for example, at Timbertop students are taught how to use their character strengths to build resilience. The importance of developing resilience and how we create flexibility in the face of challenge was an area our attendees found valuable on a personal level, but also worthy of further exploration, especially within the wider context of troubling mental health statistics in young people in Australia. 

The day ended with some practical wellbeing tips – for the individual and also for the community. After a robust Q&A session, Charlie wrapped up the day in his inimitable rousing style with passion and hope for the continued development of Positive Education for all. Feedback from those who attended was overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging with the added recommendation for others to book early next time and find out for themselves how this initiative has taken off and the value it has for our children.  

Frances Loughrey
Associate Director, Community Relations
Geelong Grammar School


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RECOMMENDED PODCAST

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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

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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.