WHY AN INSTITUTE OF POSITIVE EDUCATION

Welcome to the first edition of our Institute of Positive Education’s eNewsletter.  As ‘Friends of the Institute’ we are excited to be able to communicate with you about the many exciting developments in the field of Positive Education. We hope our eNewsletter will support the growth of this important work in schools and showcase examples of Positive Education in action both at Geelong Grammar School (GGS) and in various schools throughout Australia and around the world.

Throughout our history, GGS, along with many schools, has placed a strong emphasis on educating the whole person. Our journey with Positive Psychology and the inception of Positive Education started with our official launch by Professor Martin Seligman and our Principal, Stephen Meek, back in 2007.  The ensuing eight years have been a tremendous journey of learning, living, teaching and embedding the skills for wellbeing which are supported by a growing body of scientific research.  Please refer to the timeline of key events in our ongoing journey with Positive Education.

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A colleague from my previous school recently asked me, “Why an institute?”  I imagine others may have the same question and would be interested in hearing our response.  Geelong Grammar School made the decision to establish an Institute to serve the growth of Positive Education both at the school and beyond.  The excitement generated within GGS over the past eight years, coupled with the significant interest from wider educational communities (local, national and international), suggests that Positive Education is capable of fulfilling a need and that it is something for which many school communities are searching.  There is a call for a comprehensive, scientific and whole-school approach to acquiring the concepts and skills for wellbeing.  My colleagues and I feel a tremendous sense of meaning and purpose in the work we are doing at GGS.  To see the primary impact we are having on our own school community, and to hear many examples of the secondary impact we are having on schools throughout Australia and indeed internationally, is extremely exciting.  

A major reason for the School’s decision to establish an Institute of Positive Education was because it could see many ongoing needs in this very young field.  As pioneers of Positive Education and from the considerable experience gained, from both the achievements and the setbacks, the School had confidence in its role to drive the growth of Positive Education on a broader scale.  The School has been fortunate to learn from many of the national and international experts in the fields of Positive Psychology and Positive Education.  Over 25 scholars have resided at Geelong Grammar School and enriched our community and our Positive Education programme.  With this privilege comes a sense of responsibility to share this knowledge and to assist other school communities to make progress towards developing their own thriving communities.   

There remains much more to be done, both in the field of Positive Education and also at Geelong Grammar School.  There are research, curriculum and staff training directives or opportunities to pursue. Longitudinal research in different cultural settings must be carried out to determine effective wellbeing activities and to measure the impact of wellbeing programmes.  Additional research must be undertaken to determine how best to promote flourishing among students, staff, parents and the community.  There is a need for further curriculum materials to be written and a comprehensive scope and sequence document to be established for Positive Education.  And of course, there is a need to offer more training courses so that teachers can personally benefit from the science of wellbeing and secondly so they can authentically embed the principles and practices within their school environment. 

We deliberately chose the tagline Learning to Flourish for the Institute of Positive Education.  It is taken from within our GGS Purpose document and indicates that we are not a finished product.  It illustrates that we (the Institute and our work) are on an ongoing journey, learning how to describe, measure and promote flourishing within all members of our community.  Hopefully through collaboration with like-minded people we can help to place wellbeing at the core of education.  We hope that the articles shared within our newsletters and the authentic stories, examples and resources provided will assist you and your school community to flourish.

With additional resources in our Institute we are committed to establishing and facilitating regular communication within the network of Positive Education educators.  We are very interested to hear and share stories of Positive Education in action, and would welcome any suggestions and requests for information that readers would like to see within our regular eNewsletters.

Members of our Institute team

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From left, back row: David Bott, Dr Georgie Cameron, Dr Meredith O’Connor, Judy Hand, Charlie Scudamore
Front row: Shannan O’Neill, Dr Jacci Norrish, Janis Coffey, Justin Robinson


More newsletter items

Learn It, Live It, Teach It, Embed It
There are many facets to Positive Education and many ways to successfully implement ‘Pos Ed’ into any school community.
more...
Exploring Melbourne Uni’s Pos Ed Certificate
It was exciting for the Institute of Positive Education here at GGS to be involved in the launch of the first postgraduate university course in Positi ...
more...
Certificate in Whole Person Positive Psychology
We are thrilled to announce a partnership with Dr Tal Ben-Shahar and the Wholebeing Institute to exclusively bring to Australia the world-renowned Cer ...
more...
Pos Ed in Action - The Science of Gratitude
This piece has been written by Lexia Edwards, a science teacher at Mt Barker High School in South Australia, about gratitude and the ways that it is s ...
more...
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.
more...
Pos Ed Focus Day - Year 11
The Year 11 Pos Ed Focus Day was organised primarily by Year 11 students for fellow Year 11 students to bring a bit of positivity into their peers' li ...
more...
Character Strengths challenge
This week, think of a goal you want to achieve. Write down your top signature strengths and reflect on each of them in terms of your goal.
more...
Training opportunities
Upcoming training opportunities offered by the Institute of Positive Education and its partners.
more...
We are on Facebook
The Institute of Positive Education recently launched our own Facebook page.
more...
The Insight Series
The Institute of Positive Education presents the Insight Series - guest lectures designed to inform, inspire and provide insight.
more...

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.