Positive education is a direct challenge to traditional education. Schools around the world are implementing it into classrooms, catalyzing a shift in their culture that boosts achievement, reduces stress, and increases happiness of both teachers and students.
Instead of encouraging students to learn the same things in the same ways, positive education uses positive psychology’s emphasis of individual strengths and motivations to promote growth. Of course, most teachers intuitively understand that catering to each student’s strengths and passions helps them succeed. However, only recently has that intuition transformed into research-backed practices that are proven to harness the power of positive education in your classroom.
If you’re not utilizing this powerful knowledge, there’s no better time to start than now. Here are three reasons why positive education is revolutionizing the classroom.
1) Positive education makes students and teachers happier
One of the core tenets of positive education is that it is possible to teach happiness. In fact, research shows that 40% of happiness is a direct result of intentional practices. What’s more is that there are many techniques that are proven to make you and your students happier, such as gratitude, mindfulness, and journaling.
By bringing these techniques into the classroom and practicing them yourself, a boost in happiness will be unavoidable. And, student happiness isn’t just for its own sake. Happy students have improved attention, creativity, and involvement in their communities.
2) Positive education reduces stress, depression, and burnout
Did you know that one in five students will experience major depression before finishing 12th grade? Teachers are also frequent sufferers from depression and anxiety. As mental health problems continue to rise, positive education and positive psychology are an answer to this worsening and often stigmatized issue. While traditional education models stay focused solely on academic rigor, shouldn’t we be teaching students and teachers how to succeed and be happy?
When students and teachers are taught to identify their unique strengths, cultivate gratitude, and visualize their best possible selves, they become more intrinsically motivated to pursue their own growth academically and beyond. They become a supportive community of learners and risk takers that stimulates its own happiness.
3) Positive education boosts achievement
According to one researcher, “A school curriculum that incorporates wellbeing will ideally prevent depression, increase life satisfaction, encourage social responsibility, promote creativity, foster learning and even enhance academic achievement” (Waters, 2014).
By now, you understand how positive education teaches people to identify their own strengths, which increases their intrinsic motivation. But what does this actually look like in the classroom? One example of positive education’s implementation is the jigsaw classroom. This method groups students together into teams based on their strengths, so that every group has a diverse collective skillset. That group then collaborates to research a particular topic and then teach what they’ve learned to other groups. Students learn to leverage their own strengths, validate the strengths of others, and contribute to a collaborative learning environment by teaching and learning from their peers.
Positive education may be a nascent field, but it is already huge with so much to learn. Check out the International Positive Education Network (IPEN) or contact us about incorporating positive education into your own classroom or school.