The aim of Positive Education is to create thriving and successful students, staff and community. Skills of well-being and resilience are taught to all so that everyone in the community can flourish, lead purposeful lives and contribute positively to society. It is an approach that aims to assist people to be more resilient in stressful situations, more tolerant towards others, have improved feelings of competence and improved mental health.
Positive Education supports both achievement and well-being. It is education for both traditional skills and happiness and wellbeing. Effort is needed to train the brain and the brain needs time to strengthen and develop healthy habits. As Aristotle said, “Excellence is not an act it is a habit”. Everyone needs to flourish or thrive – be the best that they can be.
Positive education is a whole school community initiative, linked to evidence based outcomes and benefits of Positive Psychology, that promotes the PERMA ingredients. The PERMA Model is a well-being theory which was developed by Martin Seligman – a world renowned positive psychologist. We have added a sixth ingredient H to the model.
The Six Ingredients of the Model
1. (Positive) Emotions (P) – experience feelings of gratitude, happiness, hope, love and peace.
2. Engagement (E) – use strengths to meet challenges and be in the moment, concentrate …. FLOW.
3. Positive Relationships (R) – connect with others, love and be loved.
4. Meaning and Purpose (M) – get from serving a cause bigger than ourselves.
5. Achievement and Accomplishment (A) – learn to set goals, pursue them and accomplish them – strive for greatness.
6. Health (H) – this is not part of the actual PERMA model but physical health and vitality are essential for well-being – students need to feel good and healthy each day.
By focusing on these 6 ingredients (PERMAH) we can flourish – “Be the best one can be! Feeling good and doing good!”
Positive Education is the framework that supports our Mandurah Catholic College Pastoral Care Programme, which we have called Flourish. Flourish focuses on providing students, parents and staff with the skills to better manage emotions and to develop healthy thinking styles, to manage and cope with everyday opportunities and challenges, to foster healthy and positive relationships and to build on character strengths and develop a positive self-identity. We are hoping that Flourish will encourage members of our Mandurah Catholic College community to be well-rounded, resilient with the ability to bounce back, be able to thrive personally, academically and professionally and to contribute positively to society in a way that is meaningful and satisfying.
We focus on recognising character strengths in ourselves and others. The concept of positive traits, including the recognition and development of strengths, is central to positive psychology. It is a great way to be able to start identifying what is good about oneself and what one’s strengths are. It also helps one to understand why everyone is different and how to get on with others. Exploring strengths is a powerful way of focusing on what is right with each person – creating opportunities for growth and development. Research has found that knowing and using strengths is linked with enhanced mental health and also with academic achievement. It is important to note that a strengths approach is not about avoiding weaknesses or challenges. In fact, focusing on strengths can be a useful strategy for enhancing resilience and overcoming difficulties. Over time, focusing on strengths is believed to increase confidence and motivation.
“Strengths are at the very core of positive psychology because they relate to understanding the plus side of the life equation – the presence of psychological health, rather than the absence of psychological illness. The development of positive traits is one of the stated 3 aims of positive psychology, alongside the development of positive institutions and positive emotions” (Seligman, 2002).