Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What do parents want for their children?

Excerpt, "Teaching Well-being in Schools" from pioneer in Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, full article can be read here.

First, a quiz:
Question one: in one or two words, what do you most want for your children?
If you are like the thousands of parents I’ve polled you responded, “Happiness,” “Confidence,” “Contentment,” “Fulfillment,” “Balance,” “Good stuff,” “Kindness,” “Health,” “Satisfaction,” “Love,” “Being civilized,” “Meaning,” and the like. In short, well-being is your topmost priority for your children.
Question two: in one or two words, what do schools teach?
If you are like other parents, you responded, “Achievement,” “Thinking skills,” “Success,” “Conformity,” “Literacy,” “Math,” “Work,” “Test taking,” “Discipline,” and the like. In short, what schools teach is how to succeed in the workplace.
Notice that there is almost no overlap between the two lists.

The schooling of children has, for more than a century, paved the boulevard toward adult work. I am all for success, literacy, perseverance, and discipline, but I want you to imagine that schools could, without compromising either, teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement. I want you to imagine positive education...

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Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is head of the Positive Psychology Center at U Penn. Positive Psychology is the "scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive..this field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play."

His work takes him into the field of Positive Education. Where he concludes that skills of well-being (positive emotion, engagement with what one is doing, a sense of accomplishment, and good relationships) are necessary to include in education.

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