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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Schools Need To Get Aboard The Positive Thinking Bus

Something I have been fighting for on a very small, local level for years, is now beginning to take shape on a much larger level thanks to some big names in positive psychology. According to Dr. Martin Seligman lessons in happiness should be taught at schools to try to improve young people's well-being.

The Guardian published this article today:

Call for happiness lessons as teenage depression increases

Speaking at a conference in London yesterday, Seligman said a $2.8m (£1.6m), three-year study in the United States found that children who had been taught "positive psychology" performed better in class. Teachers also reported these young people had higher social skills and were more engaged.

"The evidence is that wellbeing is synergistic with traditional learning: people who are in positive states learn better," he told the conference, organised by the Young Foundation and its local wellbeing project.

Seligman's ideas of "positive education" are now being tested in schools in Manchester, south Tyneside and Hertfordshire. Pupils are being taught how to handle day-to-day stress, assertiveness, decision-making and how to change negative thoughts.

He told the audience of social care workers, local authority staff, educationalists and exclusion specialists the pupils have a significantly lower rate of conduct disorder, anxiety and depression.

Irene Lucas, the chief executive of South Tyneside council, said the wellbeing project has had such a positive impact on young people, it was as though "pixie dust and magic" had been sprinkled on an area where over half of the residents live in wards which rank in the country's most deprived 25%. Read more

You can also listen to my radio show about this topic in the Child and Life Development Section, called Ten Steps to Freedom: New Education.

Our children need to be given the new tools that are available out there, even if we, as parents, are not yet fully conversant with them. Just because your parents didn't give you vitamins when you were growing up, doesn't mean that you don't give them to your own children, does it? This is the same ... let's step up to the plate and give our children what is now becoming more and more clear, and what can make their lives so much more free and unlimited than ours, and much more quickly. Give them this gift. Urge your children's schools to adopt measures of this type.

Do it for your children's future, and do it for the future of the world.

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