At Somerset, in addition to teaching the academic curriculum, we also teach the skills that children need to optimise their wellbeing. There are two main reasons we are focusing on this area.
Firstly, in recent times there appears to be an increased prevalence of mental health issues within the adolescent years; and schools are well-placed to address some of these issues. Secondly, there is growing evidence that higher levels of wellbeing correlate with improved academic performance.
‘Uplift’ is a programme we are trialling with our Year 11 students in 2017 as part of our move toward implementing elements of Positive Education. The College, in partnership with parents, aims to continue to nurture students’ character strengths and empower students emotionally, socially and psychologically. The programme focuses on equipping students with the tools required to flourish rather than just be happy.
Happiness is thought to be a somewhat simplistic mental state and relates to feeling good and having positive emotions; however, we don’t necessarily have these good emotions all of the time. Happiness certainly contributes to wellbeing but it is not the definition of wellbeing.
Flourishing, however, is a more complex notion and is a combination of feeling good and functioning well. Functioning well includes the ability to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and to reflect on our experiences. This state allows us to make better choices and to develop resilience in the face of challenges, and also to contribute to the wellbeing of others. Flourishing certainly incorporates happiness and positive emotions but, as adults, we all know there are times in our lives we experience negative or painful emotions such as sadness, loss and disappointment. Flourishing is about learning to manage these emotions effectively rather than trying to avoid them.
I think it is safe to conclude that we, as teachers and parents, want more for our children than just positive emotions ... we want them to thrive and flourish.
It is hoped that elements of this programme will stimulate conversation at home between you and your child. As we progress through the programme, more information will provided via Somerset Times. If you have any questions or feedback regarding the programme, Dr Adrian Johnson would love to hear from you.
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