Stop teaching kids how to be happy, says education expert

October 5, 2018, University of Western Australia
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A leading educational psychologist is urging schools to stop thinking of wellbeing as another subject to be taught. Instead she is urging them to create healthier schools where students naturally develop wellbeing and a love of learning.

Dr. Helen Street, an Honorary Research Fellow with The University of Western Australia's Graduate School of Education, has released a new book, Contextual Wellbeing: creating positive schools from the inside out, which offers a practical framework for building a healthy, equitable social context in schools.

Dr. Street said schools and colleges around the developed world were doing more than ever before to the mental health and of their students but the latest research revealed that one-sixth of pre-teen and nearly a quarter of adolescents worldwide were experiencing distress.

"While schools are trying to get it right when it comes to helping support their students, even their best efforts are just not working well," Dr. Street said. She believes the problem lies in the existence of unhealthy school contexts.

"Our schools are brimming with overloaded and struggling teachers, unhealthy physical spaces and an overriding emphasis on forced competition, outcomes and extrinsic rewards and awards.

"If we are to effectively support wellbeing and self-determination in young people, we need to create environments that better support their autonomy, positive relationships and engagement in learning.

"It's time we changed education from the inside out so that young people develop wellbeing and a love of learning from the outside in."

Dr. Street is the Founder and Chair of The Positive Schools Initiative which advocates for educational reform to better support equity, motivation and wellbeing in .

The Positive Schools Initiative informs educators about up-to-date, evidence-based research and practice that is relevant to their work supporting academic, social and emotional learning in schools. At the core of The Positive Schools Initiative are The Positive Schools conferences, which have become known as Australia's leading and wellbeing events for educators.

Explore further: Is positive education another fad? Perhaps, but it's supported by good research

More information: Contextual Wellbeing is available via the website: www.contextualwellbeing.com.au/

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3 comments

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rhugh1066
1 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2018
Two words explains much of what's wrong with today's American school system: participation trophy.
julianpenrod
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2018
Note, teaching "wellbeing" was touted as a "breakthrough", a crucial new, previously unexamined, facet for learning.
Now, we're told that that that is a foolish venture.
A constant with "education" in the U.S. A system comes along that's different, but not necessarily correct. It gets a lot of promotion. It parades "research" that shows it is the answer to all ills, that it will, among other things, help repair the damage done by past fraudulent systems. Then the news system fails and another comes along, with "research" that shows it will undo the harm done by the previous frauds.
Troublingly, too, the new system promotes affecting students "from the outside in". At least some of that seems to resemble the idea of the school taking the place of the home environment and influence.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2018
Two words explains much of what's wrong with today's American school system: participation trophy.


The article is about Australian schools and how this one woman believes that she knows what is best for every child in Australia's school districts.

Dr. Street is the Founder and Chair of The Positive Schools Initiative which advocates for educational reform to better support equity, motivation and wellbeing in young people.


My oh my - HOW in the world did children in Australia ever get along and learn anything in the school systems without her sticking her nose into their lives and calling it deficient.
A couple of hundred years ago, she would have been put on a ship to sail back to England for her troubles.
She is concerned about children being under STRESS? Totally ridiculous. A certain amount of stress prepares children for adult life and work.

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