Principles of Positive Education for Girls

Article by Dux Digital
Perth College, WA / 03 February 2020

Education is empowering, and with the right foundation and nurturing it can lead to a range of opportunities for success. Girls require specific strategies to help them reach their full potential, and one important component is positive education.

Perth College has done extensive research into the field of positive education, and with their specialised Inside Out program students are learning to become leaders and valued members of the community. The principles the school implements into the curriculum support a positive attitude, build self-esteem, and promote resilience.

Positive Psychology

When combined with best teaching practices and a strong curriculum, positive psychology can have an impact on confidence, capability, and social and emotional learning. Noble & McGrath (2015) discuss the word “positivity”, and the long term effects it can have. 

For young women it can shape their overall character, and affect future relationships, community participation, and their surrounding environment. In the classroom, positivity can help students to feel safe and connected. This is beneficial during those vulnerable years when teenage girls are navigating their changing emotions.

According to WHO (World Health Organization, 2019), the adolescent brain develops in a range of ways, and these changes can impact mood and behaviour. Sleep, emotions, pleasure, reasoning, morals, and abstract thinking are all affected. Positive learning supports young women to cope with these rapid brain changes.

The Principles of Positive Education

Perth College have developed a unique program designed specifically for girls, which is recognised throughout the world. As leaders in innovative education, their Inside Out leadership model is a framework that focuses on six key elements.

Positive Emotion

It is impossible to separate academia and emotions, as low self-esteem can lead to poor decision making skills, the inability to resolve conflict, a lack of perseverance, and difficulty communicating (Hosogi, M., Okada, A., Fujii, C. et al, 2012). Fostering good self esteem for girls from pre-kindy to graduation is a critical part of the Perth College experience.

Positive Education is about reflecting on the past in a thoughtful way, appreciating the present, and looking towards the future with vision and hope. When students can accept the complexities of life, it builds resilience and provides them with the opportunity to further develop their determination, patience, and persistence.

Relationships

Humans need interaction, but relationships are not only limited to the romantic kind. Friends, mentors, family, co-workers, and the community all play a vital role in an individual’s social fabric. Different relationships meet different needs, whether it is personal or professional. Positive learning supports relationships, by placing emphasis on how students interact with others. When students have opportunities to help those who are less fortunate, it teaches them valuable life skills.

The way teenagers communicate is constantly evolving, and Cyber Safety should be emphasised in any school curriculum. Online behaviours can directly affect self-esteem, as the way students view themselves and others online is often unrealistic. Educating girls on online safety will protect them in the short and long term. For those seeking a career in a competitive industry, future prospects could be diminished due to negative online behaviours.

Health

Psychological and physical health are linked closely together, and better health outcomes can be achieved when sustainable habits are formed. When health is embedded into a school’s culture it encourages students and staff to incorporate mindfulness, wellness, and fitness into their day to day lives.

In a study of almost 900 adolescents from two schools (Gerber et al., 2013), mental toughness was found to be a crucial skill in combating stress. Building mental toughness in girls is a learning priority, as these are essential qualities for future leaders. This resilience provides students a foundation for dealing with academic pressures, and teaches them to genuinely enjoy the challenges of learning in a fast paced environment.

Engagement

It is not uncommon for teachers at other educational institutions to reflect on a lack of engagement, but Perth College have worked tirelessly to motivate and inspire students. As a leading college in Perth, the team of experienced staff put a strong emphasis on empowerment, and teach the girls to be focused as they learn to be in the moment.

Creating positive education in the classroom revolves around teaching in a way that is both interesting and interactive. The learning environment is a supportive community where the girls celebrate themselves and each other. Students gain skills in teamwork which can be transferred to any industry, making them attractive candidates for any workplace.

Meaning

When a person feels as though their life has meaning, it equates to a more satisfied and fulfilled individual. Discovering the unique passions of every student is something which is nurtured in a positive education model.

Goal setting and completion, community involvement, professional development, and strong relationships with family and friends are just some of the ways the younger generation can find meaning in their lives. An attitude focusing on gratefulness is encouraged, as this has a flow on effect towards positivity.

Accomplishment

Success should be celebrated, and while the journey can be an interesting one, positive learning gives praise to personal victories and accomplishments. This method motivates students and teaches them the value of hard work.

At Perth College workshops have been designed to support students throughout their learning years, to help them to discover their strengths, giving them the confidence to seek success in any field.

Positive Education Supports Future Leaders

Positive Education principles depict learning as a whole package. While STEM subjects are an essential part of the curriculum, health and wellbeing should not be neglected. Teaching young women to advocate for themselves, building resilience, and focusing on relationships motivate individuals to strive for leadership positions.

Perth College believe an education should be the full experience and offer traditionally extracurricular activities as part of their extensive program. These include driver safety, leadership skill workshops, and orienteering adventures throughout the Perth CBD.

When young women are encouraged to be courageous, capable, and caring, they will gain invaluable education which will challenge them academically while supporting them emotionally. Positive learning from pre-kindy to graduation is shaping successful, happy, and healthy women ready for any future they can dream of!

References

Gerber, M., Brand, S., Feldmeth, A., Lang, C., Elliot, C., Holsboer-Trachsler, E. and Pühse, U. (2013). Adolescents with high mental toughness adapt better to perceived stress: A longitudinal study with Swiss vocational students. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(7), pp.808-814.

Hosogi, M., Okada, A., Fujii, C. et al. Importance and usefulness of evaluating self-esteem in children. BioPsychoSocial Med 6, 9 (2012) doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-9

Noble, T., McGrath, H. PROSPER: A New Framework for Positive Education. Psych Well-Being 5, 2 (2015) doi:10.1186/s13612-015-0030-2

World Health Organization. (2019). Adolescent development. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/development/en/ [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].