Positive Psychology in the Classroom

Positive psychology in the classroom focuses on children's strengths.

Parents and educators across the globe know that no two children are the same nor do they learn in the same way. Curriculum developers are currently working on a differentiated learning model, which aims to reach the needs of all students all across the spectrum. But in a traditional classroom setting, it is almost too easy to see and focus on negativity and the weaknesses of students. Positive Psychology aims to focus on the positive and believes in finding strengths in the classroom.

Each Child Has Strengths

Educate a child according to his way; even when he is old he will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

According to his way means teaching a child in his or her own unique way. Just as every person’s face is different, so too are a person’s attitudes, beliefs, and abilities. Bearing that in mind, we can educate our children, as parents or teachers, using their talents and personalities as a backdrop for their learning. In the Jewish texts of Obligation of the Students (Chovas Hatalmidim), it says “according to his way” means according to a child’s individuality and unique traits. It is of utmost importance that as parents and teachers we harness the talents and personalities of our children and students toward their learning.

Positive Education

Positive Education, the combination of traditional education with a focus on happiness and wellbeing, uses Positive Psychology founder Seligman’s PERMA model and Values in Action (VIA) classification. Seligman has been working to incorporate Positive Psychology into education to decrease depression and enhance wellbeing and happiness in young people. The goal of positive education is to help children develop the ability to engage their combination of character strengths (Linkins et al., 2015).

 Positive Education is the “development of educational environments that enable the learner to engage in established curricula in addition to knowledge and skills to develop their own and others’ wellbeing” (Oades, Robinson, Green, & Spence, 2011, Pg 432, Paragraph 1).

With the end goal of enhancing student learning, Positive Education:     

  • Teaches students how to make themselves happy.
  • Decreases chances of depression.
  • Focuses on the positive, making happy students higher achievers.
  • Increases motivation among students.
  • Boosts student resilience, making them more hopeful and less likely to  give up,
  • Makes life easier for teachers, who interact with motivated and happy  students.

Utilizing Positive Psychology in the Classroom

A school curriculum that incorporates wellbeing will ideally prevent depression, increase life satisfaction, encourage social responsibility, promote creativity, foster learning and even enhance academic achievement (Waters, 2014).

As research is still being conducted on adolescents and college students to increase the effectiveness of Positive Education, it can’t be stated enough that happier children learn better. Finding strengths in the classroom and beyond as parents and educators will help children be happier and motivated learners.

Peace Building Skills

Teach children peacebuilding skills by encouraging them to become Shalom Monitors. Although Yaakov rarely gets along with his younger sister, Chana, he is upset when his friends Zev and Ezra begin to fight over a lost bird. Read how Yaakov solves the problem, and how you can teach children to become a Shalom Monitors