Positive Education, simply put, is the incorporation of the science of positive psychology into the life and work of schools. It is aimed first at benefiting teachers personally, and then benefits them again by making it easier to get students to engage with and persist in the work they need to master learning.
Taking advantage of current advancements in positive psychology, positive education operates towards the main goal of teaching the skills for academic learning and well-being. Just like problem solving or reasoning skills, advocates of positive education assert that the skills of well-being can be taught and nurtured.
Positive Education inevitably works to create a school culture that supports the caring, trusting relationships that distinguish excellent schools from their mediocre peers. This underpins the holistic education that our schools provide to better prepare our students to thrive in a fast-changing and highly-connected world. In order to better position our students to take advantage of opportunities in a globalised world, our students need to possess life-ready competencies like creativity, innovation, cross-cultural understanding and resilience. This calls for schools to place greater emphasis on imparting both “traditional skills” and to teach “well-being” and for students to gain greater insights of the “self” as an agent for change and knowledge creation.
Positive education is gaining traction in Singapore Schools. Moving forward, schools that embark on the journey of positive education would do well to develop the future-ready child we want for the 21st century, guided by the following key principles focusing on academic development, nurturing character and values, fostering wellbeing.
1. We want every child to be responsible for his/her own learning. Our goal is to enable every child to be involved actively in intellectual and academic pursuits, and come to an understanding of himself/herself, the community and the world.
2. We focus on developing a growth-mindset in each child, with the belief that he/she is capable of academic success. Children understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence.
3. We help our children find the connections across different experiences and subjects, so that they can find purpose and meaning in every task they undertake, and can make connections between what they learn in the classroom and what they experience in life.
4. We believe that for children to reach their full potential, they must first master themselves, and learn to manage their own thoughts and emotions. After they become leaders of self, they can then build on their strengths to lead others.
5. We teach our children that every gesture, whether big or small, can make a difference. To lead a meaningful and purposeful life, they learn to appreciate the contributions of others and to find ways to help others.
6. We provide opportunities for children to develop their character strengths, to enable them to appreciate their unique abilities and capacities to flourish and perform at their best.
7. We put in place school-wide processes to engender a culture of well-being within the school community.
8. We inspire our children to pursue happiness by engaging in meaningful endeavours. Stories from inspirational people who exemplify meaning in life are used to stimulate them to think about their own purpose and what makes them happy.
9. We inspire our parents and partners to live, teach ad embed well-being in our lives, as well as to act as authentic role models for our children
Overall, these 3+3+3 key principles undergird our focus for a school to flourish, i.e. to strive for both excellence, and for wellbeing, leveraging on character strengths of resilience, gratitude, community-spiritedness and future-ready confidence for the 21st century school. It serves to guide the translation of school policies into effective programmes that promote the competence and wellness of all. Furthermore, it provides a roadmap for school envisioning and direction-setting, to effect deep and sustainable culture to bring about a new prosperity that combines positive outcomes in lives within the school context and the community at large.
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