They’re the best places in the world for children to pick up positive psychology skills that empower them and allow them to flourish.
During the last 100 years, education has focused on people acquiring knowledge and information so that they can enter the job market, without considering the emotions and skills necessary to promote critical thinking and positive communication. This has to change, and we should be moving towards “happy schools.”
“Schools are the best places in the world for children to pick up positive psychology skills that empower them and allow them to flourish,” says Gilda Scarfe, founder and CEO of innovative educational consultancy firm Positive Ed, who is participating in the 9th annual Wellbeing 360 conference.
Read more: What is positive psychology?
Positive psychology is a very new science that is backed up by evidence. There are programs and pilot tests that demonstrate its effectiveness.
It focuses on people’s emotions, on understanding and identifying them in order to manage them.
Why are emotions important? Because our emotions don’t always help us to make good decisions, says the specialist in an interview with Tec Review.
Emotional education will not always come from parents, because sometimes they don’t know how to manage their emotions either.
That’s why schools are the ideal place to learn about confidence, build character, understand emotions, encourage critical thinking, learn how to talk to others, and understand other people’s perspectives.
“We want our children to be happy and successful and to achieve their goals, but they need more than knowledge in order for that to happen; they need good psychological skills.”
There is an urgent need for the school curriculum to have a holistic approach to people. Math, English, Physics, or Biology should be just as important as the science of wellbeing and positive psychology.
“At the moment, they don’t have the same level of importance, but that gap must be closed,” says Scarfe, who is in charge of implementing positive psychology programs at schools in Thailand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable humans are. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety caused by isolation have proven that mental health is a priority, that people should look within and get to know themselves.
And they shouldn’t use expressions like “she’s better than me” or “he’s smarter than me,” but instead focus on what they do well and on what makes them happy.
Gilda Scarfe says that education has to change in Mexico, Australia, Europe, and all over the world, but change takes time.
“If we learn to connect with our students, we give them space to be curious, ask questions, to create and build relationships.”
Ideally, schools should therefore integrate topics such as wellbeing and positive psychology with the utmost rigor, not just as another subject but as a way of life that empowers students and teachers.
Teachers need to be qualified and trained in the science of wellbeing and positive psychology in order for them to have an impact on their students.
“Those who are implementing positive psychology in schools have a structure, metrics, lessons, and all the support needed so that children are able to communicate clearly with people.”
The fundamentals a human being needs to prosper have not changed much since the time of Aristotle; they have remained constant over time. Gilda Scarfe identifies them as follows: