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Human Ingenuity – Pedagogy for 21 st Century Learners. AAIBS Conference Prince Alfred College 17-19 April 2008 Mr Ross Featherston (IB Coordinator) & Dr Mathew White (Head of Positive Education) . Positive Education A pedagogy for the 21 st Century?. What I will discuss today.

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human ingenuity pedagogy for 21 st century learners

Human Ingenuity – Pedagogy for 21st Century Learners

AAIBS Conference

Prince Alfred College

17-19 April 2008

Mr Ross Featherston (IB Coordinator)


Dr Mathew White (Head of Positive Education)

what i will discuss today
What I will discuss today
  • The science of Positive Psychology
  • Geelong Grammar School’s journey towards Positive Education
  • Links between the International Baccalaureate and Positive Education
  • Two practical applications of Positive Education for the classroom
the ib mission statement
The IB Mission Statement
  • The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
  • These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

What do you hope your school’s

International Baccalaureate programme

will help students achieve?

professor martin seligman
Professor Martin Seligman
  • “Father” of Positive Psychology (1998)
  • Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1997
what is positive psychology
What is Positive Psychology?
  • Positive Psychology focuses on the empirical study of positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.
positive psychology1
Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology has the following three pillars that are required to “do well in life”

i. Positive Emotion:LIVING THE HAPPY LIFE



positive psychology2
Positive Psychology

An approach to psychology that focuses on

what leads to life satisfaction (wellbeing).

-5 to +5

Depression ………..OK ……………Flourishing

geelong grammar school in 2009
Geelong Grammar School in 2009
  • An Australian school with an international outlook
  • Four campuses: Bostock, Toorak, Timbertop, and Corio (ELC-Year 12)
  • Boarders and Day Boarders
  • International students
  • Varied curriculum (VCE and International Baccalaureate-PYP and DP)
  • Strong pastoral care and service focus
  • Staff role in pastoral, co-curriculum and academic programs




what is positive education
What is Positive Education?
  • Taking Positive Psychology into a school context
  • A whole school approach to teaching and learning from kindergarten to the final years of senior school.
  • It aims to increase the experience of positive emotions in our students and encourage them to engage their strengths for personal and community goals.
  • Previous studies have demonstrated that an optimistic outlook can be taught to schoolchildren.
  • It involves implicit and explicit teaching programs and pedagogy.
the aims of positive education
The aims of Positive Education
  • To increase the experience of positive emotions in our students.
  • To encourage students to engage their signature strengths for personal and community goals.
  • To engage students to live meaningful lives to find purpose and make a difference to their communities at large.
the implicit program
The IMPLICIT program
  • Seven over arching topics:

i. Emotion

ii. Gratitude

iii. Strengths

iv. Creativity

v. Self-efficacy

vi. Resilience

vii. Mindfulness

  • The development of a Positive Education pedagogy within each Department, at each year level and at each campus in the classroom, on the sporting fields, on the stage and in every interaction with students
the explicit program
The EXPLICIT program
  • Involves Positive Education programs being taught (timetabled into the academic program) at various year levels at each campus.
  • The vast majority of students in years 11 and 12 will have experienced some explicit Positive Education programs.

Explicit skills taught to help students tackle life’s challenges, such as:

  • Realistic Optimism
  • Explanatory Styles
  • Thinking Traps
  • Detecting Icebergs (Underlying and Surface Beliefs)
  • Challenging Beliefs
  • Putting It Into Perspective
  • Real-time Resilience
  • Character Strengths
character strengths
Character Strengths
  • Character Strengths are positive traits; individual differences such as curiosity, kindness and gratitude (Peterson)
  • There are 24 Character Strengths which are universal and cross-cultural (Peterson and Seligman)
  • Knowing and using one’s signature Strengths can help lead to a more fulfilling and engaged life
  • Strengths can be discovered via a 240 question test on
the six core virtues
The six core virtues

The 24 Character Strengths fall under six core virtues………

wisdom and knowledge
Wisdom and Knowledge
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Love of Learning
  • Open mindedness
  • Perspective
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Social Intelligence
  • Valour and Bravery
  • Perseverance and Industry
  • Integrity and Honesty
  • Fairness
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Self-Control
  • Forgiveness
  • Prudence and Caution
  • Humility and Modesty
  • Appreciation of beauty
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Humour
  • Spirituality
my top five signature strengths
My top five (signature) Strengths
  • Your Top Strength: Love of learningYou love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
  • Your Second Strength: Forgiveness and mercyYou forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.
  • Your Third Strength: Caution, prudence, and discretionYou are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.
  • Your Fourth Strength: Curiosity and interest in the worldYou are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
  • Your Fifth Strength: Fairness, equity, and justiceTreating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
how many of these 24 character strengths can be found in the ib learner profile
How many of these 24 Character Strengths can be found in the IB Learner Profile?

Creativity, Ingenuity, Originality


Judgement and Critical Thinking

Love of Learning


Valour and Bravery

Diligence/ Perseverance

Integrity, Honesty

Vitality, Zest, Enthusiasm

Kindness and Generosity

Loving and being Loved

Social/Emotional Intelligence

Citizenship, Duty

Equity, Fairness


Self Control



Prudence, Caution

Appreciation of Beauty


Hope, Optimism


Sense of Purpose

strengths in the classroom
Strengths in the classroom
  • All year 10 students complete a questionnaire ( to determine their own Strengths.
  • Taught about Character Strengths as part of explicit year 10 Positive Education course.
  • The importance of Character Strengths are reinforced by subject teachers (implicit) and by pastoral care tutors.
  • Possibility of list of student’s Character Strengths being available to that student’s subject teachers.
the skill of real time resilience
The skill of Real Time Resilience

What does this skill encourage?

  • The ability to fight back against counter-productive thoughts as they occur by:

i. Generating more accurate alternatives

ii. Using evidence to prove the belief is false

key terms
Key terms
  • That can’t be true because …
  • Another way to see this is …
the future of pos ed and ggs
The Future of Pos Ed and GGS
  • By 2011 over 900 students will have completed explicit Positive Psychology programmes in Years 7 and 10
  • This includes all Year 10 students before the IB Diploma or VCE
  • Ongoing training for staff
  • Appointment of GGS Head of Positive Education
  • Creation of GGS Positive Education Department with 16 teachers , campus coordinators
  • Developing a Positive Education pedagogy across all campuses, year levels and faculties within GGS
want to find out more
Want to find out more?
  • The Resilience Factor (Reivich)
  • Positive Psychology Primer (Peterson)
measurement research
Measurement + Research

Bill Hallam, PhD student, the University of Melbourne

Study: the link between Character Values and Adolescent Wellbeing.

What is the role of character values including kindness, honesty, courage and respect in adolescent wellbeing ?

Is adolescent wellbeing associated with the adolescent’s character values and attitudes towards self, others and the environment?

measurement research1
Measurement + Research

Collaborative project.

Research supervisors:

  • Prof. Glenn Bowes, the University of Melbourne
  • Prof. John Toumbourou, Deakin University
  • Dr. Craig Olssen, the Murdoch Institute