Sunday, 8 May 2022

A new model for talent management in schools

This presentation was given virtually at the COBIS Leadership Conference on Sunday 8th May 2022. It offers a new model for talent management in schools, which reflects the changing world of careers having shifted from 'jobs for life' to 'portfolio careers'. The presentation proposes a 'tour of duty' model of mutually beneficial short term commitments between schools and individuals. 

 

Saturday, 26 February 2022

The Future of Teaching and Learning, Assessment and Qualifications

A presentation given at the FOBISIA Leadership conference on Saturday 26th February 2022.

This session sets up a debate about two areas: the future of teaching and learning; and the future of assessments and qualifications and micro qualifications. 

We were already on a journey from the physical to the digital before Covid-19 and that the pandemic has accelerated the rate of change. 

The current model for T&L is unsustainable and that we need to explore new models that will ultimately be determined by price point. 

Qualifications are going to shift from high stakes to on demand micro qualifications.

 

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

A Sense of Belonging at Work - Lee Waller: Summary of Key Arguments

The main thesis of A Sense of Belonging at Work by Lee Waller, Professor of Occupational Psychology at Hult International Business School, is that a sense of belonging at work improves employee wellbeing and performance.

The book has a simple, logical structure: the first part explores what it means to belong before moving onto what organisations can do to establish a sense of belonging.

Part One: What it means to Belong

Professor Waller draws on humanist (Maslow), social and evolutionary psychologists to establish that 'belonging is a fundamental human need' that has evolved to support our survival.

Her research has identified the three factors which undermine belonging in the workplace (Chapter 2):

  1. An absence of quality relationships: "not being able to connect with people in the workplace on a personal level also means that we do not have the opportunity to be open about how we are feeling, to share our emotional experience, and feel validated, understood and cared for, which are cornerstones of intimate interactions and quality relationships." (p.25)
  2. A sense of not being value: "feeling we are making a difference, adding value, are respected, and recognised for our work is an important component of a sense of belonging in the workplace." (p.27)
  3. A lack of commonality or shared characteristics with those with whom we work i.e. being different in some way: ethnicity, sexuality, gender, identity, disability, cognitive make up, educational/socio-economic background, 
"Organisational practices, structures and cultures can have a significant influence on whether a sense of not belonging is fostered, developed and maintained." (p.31)

The impact of not-belonging on wellbeing (Chapter 3):
  1. Belonging and a sense of self: not-belonging can undermine our sense of self - "They think therefore I am." (p.38)
  2. Self-efficacy (the belief that we can be successful in future tasks), Competence and Self Belief: not-belonging can elicit feelings that we are not good enough or do not add value.
  3. Self-esteem: the purpose of self-esteem is to make us aware that our inclusion is under threat. "In my research, the impact of self-esteem was core to the significance and negative impact of a sense of not-belonging." (p.39)
  4. Coherent sense of self: cognitive dissonance - "a sense of not-belonging impacts our ability to be ourselves at work." (p.43)
  5. Mood and Emotion: "a sense of not-belonging at work also has a bit impact on our emotional and mental well-being" (p.44)
Belonging and performance - the trap of not belonging (Chapter 4):
  1. Trap One: Ability to be ourselves:
    • Social Monitoring - heightened sensitivity to feedback from others; danger of over-thinking
    • Conformity - Hewlin's "Facades of Conformity". Danger of organisation of "group think", but also on a personal level of cognitive dissonance and the shame of authenticity.
  2. Trap Two: Self-protection: not-belonging can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. "self-protection strategies play out in withdrawal, detachment, avoidance and, at times, disruptive behaviour." (p.52).
"The culture of the organisation has a critical role to play in both fostering a sense of belonging and in determining the strategies employees might engage in to cope with it." (p.55)

"our ability as leaders to ensure the members of our teams have a sense of belonging is crucial to ensuring their performance" (p.58) 

Part Two: Establishing a sense of belonging

Caveat: Not all work environments are conducive to making connections (remote working etc.) and we set ourselves professional rules and boundaries that separate the personal from the professional.

Developing Quality Relationships (Chapter 5)
  1. Establishing relationships: 
    • find commonalities, take opportunities to get to know and be known by colleagues
  2. Making relationships meaningful:
    • Knowing others: 
      • we need to understand more about our colleagues than superficial facts: what are their underlying motives and intentions?
      • Enquiry: Ask open questions to understand, rather than to just gain information.
      • Presence: be fully present
      • Active listening: Empathetic Listening - Remember what people say and follow up.
      • Trust: 7-38-55 communication model (7% the words. 38% the tone, 55% body language)
    • Knowing you
      • Be you: Γνώθι Σεαυτόν Be your true and authentic self.
      • Be human "being open about vulnerabilities not only has an enormously powerful and liberating effect on us and others, but it helps us to connect - helps us to see each other as similarly vulnerable human beings." (p.76)
Establishing and adding our value (Chapter 6)
  1. Identifying strengths: 
    • “We all have our own unique blend of experience, genetics, intellect, education and personality. . . . No one else can offer exactly what we do.” (p.78)
    • Get to know your team
    • Positive and strengths-based perspective to developing self-awareness - see https://positivepsychology.com/
  2. Leveraging strengths:
    • Task crafting - involves changing the function of the role
    • Relationship crafting - involves reshaping and reforming the social interactions we have with others.
    • Cognitive crafting - involves changing the way we think about our work.
    • Autonomy is key - "autonomy signals that they are considered as a trusted, competent and valued members of the team" (p.84)
  3. Developing strengths:
    • Feedback: 
      • both positive and negative needs to be delivered in the moment, when it can have impact.
      • BOFF Model: Behaviour (example of behaviour observed) - Outcome (What was the outcome/ impact of the behaviour) - Feeling (how does the behaviour make you feel?) - Future (How can they develop more acceptable behaviour in the future?)
    • Coaching
      • asking questions, not providing answers. "If we coach our employees, we not only support their development, but we empower them to be able to solve future challenges themselves, to apply the process of learning to other situations." (p.87)
      • Whitmore's GROW model: Goal (of the coaching conversation) - Reality (awareness of the present situation) - Options (finding and exploring alternative solutions) - Will (what will they do and their commitment to undertake those actions).
Diversity and Belonging (Chapter 7)
  1. The many forms of diversity
  2. Evidence of the continued existence of prejudice, discrimination and bias
  3. Reasons for the continuation of racial inequality
    • Structural and Systemic
    • Unconscious bias
      • "Micro-aggressions are defined as verbal, behavioural or environmental indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative affronts or insults to an individual or a group."
      • "Micro-inequities are small and subtle events or behaviours that systematically unfairly treat individuals or groups who are perceived to be different, leaving them feeling 'othered', different and excluded."
    • Ignorance of the real lived experience of BIPOC
  4. Addressing Discrimination in our work places
    • Developing diverse intelligence
    • Developing self-awareness
    • Becoming an ally.
Fostering psychological safety (Chapter 8)
  1. What is psychological safety?
    • "Psychological safety is about the ability to speak frankly, with honesty and candour without disagreements, conflicts or concerns, it is not about being polite." (p.107)
    • Teams connect at a human level - "They share their vulnerabilities, their concerns, voice their differences an support each other with empathy and compassion."
  2. Fostering psychological safety
    • Leader characteristics
      • authenticity
      • humility: leaders talk openly about vulnerabilities and failures
    • Interpersonal skills
      • presence, active listening, focused attention and empathy
    • Permission to care
      • focus on how the team experience the workplace - whether they feel valued, trusted, cared for, included and supported.
    • Tolerance of failure
      • A tolerant approach to failure can be communicated by 
        • the vulnerability and humility we model as leaders;
        • the language we use when we talk about failures.
    • Addressing the unspoken - create a speak up culture - uncover the stinky fish.
Being an inclusive leader (Chapter 9)
  1. What is an inclusive leader? 
    • Inclusive leaders have "the courage to take conscious steps to break down barriers for people at risk of being excluded from society." 
    • "Inclusive leaders embody a leadership approach that appreciates diversity, invites and welcomes everyone's individual contribution, and encourages full engagement with the processes of decision-making and shaping reality." (p.116)
  2. An inclusive mindset
    • an open and curious mind
    • self-awareness, humility and vulnerability - authentic self
    • insight into cultural dynamics, tensions and misunderstandings
  3. Inclusive behaviours
    • Collaboration
      • Integrative Thinking (Oliver and Holscher) - "Innovating involves the integration of different perspectives to arrive at something new - the power of 1 + 1 = 3." (p.119)
      • Inclusive Conversations: "require the interpersonal skills of attention, active listening, open questions, trust, and rapport" - i.e. psychological safety. Reflection on the quality of the conversations.
  4. Courage and Commitment
    • Challenging others: (discriminatory behaviour, unhelpful ways of communicating, disrespectful ways of interacting).
    • Challenging the system: systemic institutionalised practices
    • Challenging ourselves: self-awareness and humility
Reframing a sense of belonging (Chapter 10)
"Man is troubled, not by events, but by the meaning he gives to them." (Epictetus)
  1. What sense of not-belonging means for us.
    • Disconnect between the objective, rational perspective and own personal narrative
  2. Unconscious Cognitions
    • Self-Conscious Affect Theory
      • guilt - negative interpretation of our behaviour. encourage productive behaviours because we believe behaviours are unstable (liable to change), controllable (something we can change) and situation specific.
      • shame -  negative interpretation of the self: we believe behaviours are stable, uncontrollable and global. Therefore fight/ flight/ freeze often avoid/ hide/ withdraw. Shame results in anti-social behaviours.
  3. Challenging our inner critic
    • Inner critics can manifest as ubiquitous, perpetual, negative self-perceptions and frequent ANTS (automatic. negative thoughts)
    • "Becoming aware of our own negative thoughts when, where and why they occur is the first critical step of taming our inner critic." (p.129)
  4. Step One: awareness and acceptance
    • Brown's Shame Resilience Theory:
      • Recognising Shame and understanding our triggers
      • Practising Critical Awareness
      • Reaching out and Telling our Story
      • Speaking Shame
    • Curiosity and self-compassion: "accepting that negative, distorted thoughts are a natural human experience."
  5. Step Two: challenge
    • Lee's five steps to challenging and ultimately modifying negative thoughts:
      • Examining: identifying the evidence both for and against the thought
      • Exploring: what the thought means to us
      • Exposing: the bias/ distortion/ assumptions on which the thought is based
      • Expanding: our perspective by considering alternative believes and propositions.
      • Experimenting: with different ways of thinking.
    • Socratic Questioning:
  6. Step Three: reframe: create an alternative appraisal of the situation that stimulated the negative thought. "The aim here is not to silence or switch off our inner critic, but to develop an alternative, positive narrative to counter it." (p.133)
    • Distancing Approach:
      • Given the situation, what advice would we give to a friend or loved one, what alternative believe or interpretation might we use?
    • Thought Records - force breaking down the thought process.
      • Belief - Alternate Belief
      • Evidence for Belief - Evidence for Alternate Belief
      • Emotion for Belief - Emotion for Alternate Belief
      • Action for Belief - Action for Alternate Belief


Monday, 27 December 2021

Merchants of War and Peace - by Song-Chuan Chen - Summary of Arguments

Song-Chuan Chen's Merchants of War and Peace is a fine piece of historical research which explores the origin of the arguments that ultimately would be used in lobbying the Whig Government and would persuade Palmerston to send the military force that launched the First Opium War (1839-42).

Chen's thesis is that the pro- and anti- war arguments originated in the Merchant communities in the 'factories' of Canton. The 'Warlike' party (which included James Matheson and William Jardine) worked out their arguments in the Canton Register; these were opposed by the 'Pacific' party whose mouthpiece was the Canton Press. 

According to Chen, the case for war distilled down to an argument for free trade: namely that the Qing dynasty's policy of giving Canton a monopoly on external trade was protectionist, and that the only way that this was likely to change was by the British military imposing change by force. 

An important aspect of this argument was the development of a narrative that China was isolationist, which stood in stark contrast to the traditional view of China (originally propagated by Jesuits during the Ming Dynasty - 1368-1644) was that China was a 'peaceable' nation. The Warlike party were able to draw on the failed Macartney (1793) and Amherst (1816) embassies to the Qing court as evidence that China was anti-commercial and insular. Shifting public opinion from viewing China as 'Peaceable' to being 'Isolationist' was key to the Warlike narrative - and its impact has carried into the C21.

Other arguments which focused on the lack of respect for the British were secondary (e.g., whether or not the Chinese term yi should be translated as 'foreigner' or 'barbarian'; or whether Chinese officials disrespected Britain by turning their back on the portrait of the King, or by rejecting British officials). 

Chen argues that one important factor to the ultimate success of the warlike party was that the Canton merchants had up-to-date detailed knowledge of China, including being able to make a detailed evaluation of its military capability.

Chen points out that the approach of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to foreigners was driven by internal politics: namely that the Manchu rulers feared that foreigners would side with the Han majority in a civil war. Their foreign policy was to put in place 'soft borders' to distance foreigners and thus to protect their position. The use of the term yi  was part of this distancing; as was the establishment of 'five rules' of the 'Canton system' which outlined the rigorous conditions for foreign merchants in 1757 (See pp.46-47). 

Chen draws attention to the role that the Canton merchants played in negotiating this monopoly, which reduced the number of foreign trading ports from four (Canton, Amoy, Ningbo and Shanghai) to one (Canton).

"From the Imperial perspective, the Canton system assuaged the political security fears of the Manchurian and Chinese ruling classes and, at the same time, allowed them to extract profits from the Canton maritime trade." (p.159)

On the other hand, the Pacific Party adopted a laissez-faire approach, believing in the power of commerce and that China had the right to conduct is own policy as it wished and that the British who traded in Canton should submit to the rules of the Chinese (p.34-5).

Chen's research traces how these arguments that were circulating in Canton became the key arguments in the lobbying of the British Whig Government throughout the 1830s. He cross-references the cases made in the Canton Register with the arguments that subsequently were used in the English press and in pamphlets published. Chen echoes other scholars in arguing that the tide of opinion in Parliament and wider British society began to shift in the second half the decade culminating in Palmerston's decision in 1839. 

Chen rejects the arguments of  Glenn Malancon (Britain's China Policy and the Opium Crisis 2003) that Palmerston reached the war decision on his own prior to meeting Jardine on 27th September 1839, arguing that Jardine played a key role in supplying "military intelligence, war strategy and the demands for treaty negotiation" (p.120). The correlation of the battle plan, the subsequent terms of the Treaty of Nanking and that the cabinet took the war decision just three days after the Jardine-Palmerston meeting, for Chen are too coincidental for Jardine not to have be instrumental in getting Parmerston over the line.

Chen's final analysis is that the conflict that arose in the 1830s in Canton was fundamentally the battle between the old 'profit order' by which the 'Canton system' looked after the interests of the Qing ruling dynasty, the Chinese high officials and the Canton merchants; and a new 'profit order' which looked after the interests of the the British - both Government and merchants (traders and English manufacturers). For Chen, the ultimate reason for the  Opium War came down to money:

"Profit order was central to the Chinese-British encounter in Canton, which during the hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century was arguably the most dynamic wealth-creating port in the maritime trading world." (p.159)

Note: This is not a great starting point if you want a general book on the Opium War. It is is an excellent piece of historical research, engaging with primary source material, but it is not for anyone new to this period of history.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Samantha Steed Facebook Live Talk on Early Years

 Samantha Steed talking about Early Years on Facebook Live for Kellett School in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Independent School Medallists at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 (Summer 2021)

Independent Schools continue to make a significant (disproportionate) contribution to British Sport - this is something that we should celebrate. 

The final statistics:

  • 53 women won medals for TeamGB (4 won 2 medals), 20 of whom were educated in independent schools (38%)
  • 55 men won medals for TeamGB (6 won 2 medals, 2 won 3 medals and 1 won 4 medals), 17 of whom were educated in independent schools (25%)
  • Overall, 108 competitors won medals for TeamGB, 37 of whom were educated at UK Independent schools (34%)
(school data not available for Equestrian Eventing Team)

Congratulations to the following former pupils of Independent Schools who won medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo:

Team GB Gold Medals 

  • Cycling
    • Katie Archibald (Glasgow Academy) Madison
  • Diving 
    • Tom Daley (Plymouth College) Synchronised 10m Platform 
  • Modern Pentathlon
    • Kate French (Cobham Hall) Individual
    • Joe Choong (Whitgift) Individual
  • Sailing
    • Hannah Mills (Howell's Llanduff) 470
    • Eilidh McIntyre (Mayville High School Southsea) 470
  • Swimming 
    • Freya Anderson (Ellesmere College) 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay 
    • Calum Jarvis (Plymouth College) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
  • Triathlon 
    • Jonathan Brownlee (Bradford Grammar) Mixed Triathlon Relay 

Team GB Silver Medals 

  • Cycling
    • Katie Archibald (Glasgow Academy) Team Pursuit
  • Rowing 
    • Harry Leask (George Heriots) Quadruple Sculls 
    • Harry Leask (RGS Guildford) Quadruple Sculls 
  • Sailing 
    • Anna Burnet (Lomond) 
  • Swimming 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 200m Freestyle 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 200m Individual Medley 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 4x100m Medley Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x100m Medley Relay 

Team GB Bronze Medals 

  • Athletics
    • Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Trinity Croydon) 4x100m Relay
    • Josh Kerr (George Watsons) 1500m
  • Diving 
    • Tom Daley (Plymouth College) 10m Platform 
  • Equestrian 
    • Karl Hester (Elizabeth College, Guernsey) Team Dressage 
  • Gymnastics
    • Amelie Morgan (Wolsey Hall, Oxford) Artistic Team
  • Hockey
    • Grace Balsdon (Kent College)
    • Maddie Hinch (King's, Taunton) 
    • Sarah Jones (Howells Llanduff)
    • Shona McCallin (Repton)
    • Hannah Martin (Ipswich School)
    • Lily Owsley (Clifton College) 
    • Izzy Petter (Cranleigh)
    • Ellie Ryer (Claire's Court)
    • Anna Toman (St Gabriel's Newbury)
    • Susannah Townsend (Sutton Valence)
    • Leah Wilkinson (Repton)
  • Shooting 
    • Matthew Coward-Holley (Felsted) Trap Shooting 
  • Rowing 
    • Thomas George (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • Charles Elwes (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • Oliver Wynne-Griffith (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • James Rudkin (Stowe) Men's Eight 
    • Thomas Ford (Grange School) Men's Eight 
    • Henry Fieldman (Latymer Upper) Men's Eight 
  • Sailing 
    • Emma Wilson (Bournemouth Collegiate) RS:X Windsurfing 

Medallists competing for other nations who were educated at UK Independent Schools: 

Gold Medals 

  • Triathlon 
    • Flora Duffy - Bermuda (Mount Kelly - then Kelly College) 

Bronze Medals 

  • Swimming 
    • Frederico Burdisso - Italy (Mount Kelly) 200m Butterfly 
    • Frederico Burdisso - Italy (Mount Kelly) 4x100m Medley Relay 

Medallists at the Paralympic Games who were educated at UK Independent Schools: 

Gold Medals 

  • Rowing
    • Oli Stanhope - GB (Hampton) PR3 Mixed 4+
  • Swimming 
    • Ellen Keane - Ireland (Mount Kelly) SB8 100m Breaststroke
    • Hannah Russell - GB (Mount Kelly) S12 100m Backstroke
  • Triathlon
    • Lauren Steadman - GB (Mount Kelly- then Kelly College) PTS5 Individual

Silver Medals 

  • Athletics
    • Kare Adenegan - GB (Bablake and King Henry VIII School) T34 100m
  • Wheelchair Fencing
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Team Foil
    • Oliver Lam-Watson - GB (Dulwich College) - Team Foil 

Bronze Medals 

  • Wheelchair Fencing
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Individual Épée
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Individual Foil
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Team Épée
    • Oliver Lam-Watson - GB (Dulwich College) - Team Épée
  • Swimming 
    • Toni Shaw - GB (Albyn School) 400m Freestyle S9 
  • Triathlon 
    • Claire Cashmore - GB (Mount Kelly- then Kelly College) PTS5 Individual 
Please contact me if you spot any errors or omissions. Many thanks 

Related posts 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

The Bomber Mafia - Malcom Gladwell: Brief Summary

The Bomber Mafia is a book about two approaches to a problem. The problem in question was 'What is the best way to end WWII by bombing?' The context was the last year of the war and the target was Japan.

Malcolm Gladwell narrates the story of two US Air Force Generals: Brigadier General Haywood Hansell and Major General Curtis LeMay both of whom, at different times, were in command of the Twenty-First Bomber Command stationed on a cluster of small islands, the Marianas, in the middle of the Western Pacific (Guam, Saipan and Tinian). The significance of these islands was that they were (just) in range for a B29 bomber to run a raid to Tokyo and other significant Japanese industrial cities.

The first General, Hansell, was a devotee of the 'The Bomber Mafia', a group within the Air Force command who believed that air power alone could win a war. They believed that the precision bombing of key strategic pinchpoints could bring the enemy to his knees (and thus to surrender). without committing thousands of troops on the ground. In the 1930s this concept was quite and ran contrary to the prevailing US military thinking which, given that it had been the case in nearly every war to date, saw ground troops as essential to military success. Furthermore, they believed that, unlike blitz bombing, precision bombing would also minimise non-combatant casualties - thus there was a moral dimension to this view. At the heart of Hansell and the Bomber Mafia's belief was that they placed enormous faith in the 'Norden Bombsight' which, they claimed could enable an airborne bombardier to drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from six miles up. Sadly this faith was misplaced and Hansell's B29 bombers never managed to effect high level precision bombing of key Japanese instillations.

For this reason he was replaced by General Curtis LeMay, who approached the problem of bombing to end the war with a more open mind. After a brief attempt at following his predecessor's approach, he switched to a totally different strategy: low level blanket bombing of cities with napalm. The results were devastating. May's first raid on Tokyo on March 9th 1945 lasted 3 hours, dropped 1,665 tons of napalm, destroyed 16 square miles of the city killing about 100,000 people.

"Probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six hour period than at any other time in the history of man." US Strategic Bombing Survey

Further bombing raids on other cities followed with similar results.

 The irony here is that the US WWII narrative focuses on how President Truman agonised over the dropping of the two atomic bombs, but much less consideration is given to the 'on-the-ground' action of LeMay to blanket bomb significantly larger urban populations.

Hansell was a man of principle, but the fact is that he didn't get the job done.

LeMay was a pragmatist who believed that his actions would bring an early end to the war. This proved to be true. His extensive bombing campaign and the dropping of the atomic bombs brought about a Japanese surrender, preventing a costly invasion, probable partition of Japan, and enabled food supplies to be flown in saving millions of Japanese from starvation.

However, viewed from the perspective of 2021, LeMay's approach to bombing and ending wars has had its day. Today, targetted precision bombing is the norm - Hansell's dream has been realised.

Curtis LeMay won the battle. Haywood Hansell won the war.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Schools, Technology and Parents:

How should schools work with parents when things get back to normal?

A TTS webinar given on 22/06/2021

   

Thursday, 4 February 2021

The future of teacher and school leader recruitment

A presentation for the COBIS Bursars and Heads of HR Conference on Thursday 4th February 2021

 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Flourish by Martin Seligman – a summary of key points

Martin Seligman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the founding fathers of the Positive Psychology movement, and Flourish (2011) is the summary of how he and the team at Penn have applied these principles in different contexts.

Wellbeing - The Focus of Positive Psychology

For Seligman the focus of Positive Psychology is ‘Wellbeing’ rather than ‘Happiness’. He identifies three inadequacies in authentic happiness theory: 1) happiness is inextricably bound up with being in a cheerful mood; 2) life satisfaction holds too privileged a place; 3) “positive emotion, engagement and meaning do not exhaust elements that people choose for their own sake.” (p.13-14).

Wellbeing is a construct (like ‘weather’ or ‘freedom’) – no single measure defines it exhaustively (“operationalises” it).

The focal topic of positive Psychology is the construct of wellbeing, not the entity of life-satisfaction,

Wellbeing has five measurable elements (PERMA): (p.24)

1.      P ositive Emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all elements.

2.      E ngagement

3.      R elationships (Positive Relationships)

4.      M eaning

5.      A ccomplishment

“The goal of Positive Psychology in wellbeing theory is measure and build human flourishing.” p.29  Therefore Wellbeing must be buildable.

Exercises that build Wellbeing

  1. The Gratitude Letter Write a letter of gratitude to someone who did or said something that changed your life for the better(300 words)
  2. What-Went-Well (Also called “Three Blessings”) Exercise.  Every night for a week at the end of the day write down three things that went well and why they went well.
  3. Signature/ Character Strengths Survey (https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/questionnaires/survey-character-strengths).  Getting people in touch with their strengths, rather than just trying to correct their weaknesses.This focuses on XXX signature/ character strengths, which can be organised into clusters

a)      Wisdom and Knowledge

                                                               i.      Curiosity/Interest in the world

                                                             ii.      Love of Learning

                                                           iii.      Judgement/Critical Thinking/ Open-mindedness

                                                           iv.      Ingenuity/Originality/Practical Intelligence/Street Smarts

                                                             v.      Social Intelligence/ Personal Intelligence/ Emotional Intelligence

                                                           vi.      Perspective

b)      Courage

                                                               i.      Valour and Bravery

                                                             ii.      Perseverance/ Industry/ Diligence

                                                           iii.      Integrity/Genuineness/Honesty

c)       Humanity and Love

                                                               i.      Kindness and Generosity

                                                             ii.      Loving and Allowing Oneself to be Loved

d)      Justice

                                                               i.      Citizenship/Duty/Teamwork/Loyalty

                                                             ii.      Fairness and Equity

                                                           iii.      Leadership

e)      Temperance

                                                               i.      Self-control

                                                             ii.      Prudence/Discretion/Caution

                                                           iii.      Humility and Modesty

f)        Transcendence

                                                               i.      Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

                                                             ii.      Gratitude

                                                           iii.      Hope/Optimism/Future-Mindedness

                                                           iv.      Spirituality/Sense of Purpose/Faith/Religiousness

                                                             v.      Forgiveness and Mercy

                                                           vi.      Playfulness and Humour

                                                         vii.      Zest/Passion/Enthusiasm

“Identify which of these character strengths you have in abundance and then use them as much as possible in school, in hobbies and with friends and family.” (p.84)

The Dirty Little Secret of Drugs and Therapy (Chapter 3)

  • According to the World Health Organisaton (WHO) depression is the most costly disease in the world and the treatments of choice are drugs and psychotherapy.
  • Drugs and therapies for depression are not curative but cosmetic – they do not cure, they relieve the symptoms.
  • Seligman argues that cure comes through building the enabling conditions for life. Positive Psychology can provide a lasting cure by building ‘positive emotion, meaning, accomplishment and positive relationships’ (p.53).

Positive Education: Teaching Wellbeing to Young People (Chapter 5)

Three reasons for teaching Positive Psychology in Schools:

“Wellbeing should be taught in schools because it would be an antidote to the runaway incidence of depression, a way to increase life satisfaction, and an aid to better learning and more creative thinking.” (p.80)

  1. Penn Resiliency Program (PRP) Aims

a.       Aims

                                                               i.      to increase students’ ability to handle day-to-day problems that are common during adolescence.

                                                             ii.      To promote optimism by teaching students to think more realistically about the problems they encounter

                                                           iii.      To teach key skills (assertiveness, creative brainstorming, decision-making, relaxation and several other coping skills).

b.      Research findings:

                                                               i.      Reduces and prevents symptoms of depression.

                                                             ii.      Reduces hopelessness.

                                                           iii.      Prevents clinical levels of depression and anxiety.

                                                           iv.      Reduces and prevents anxiety.

                                                             v.      Reduces conduct problems.

                                                           vi.      PRP works equally well for children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

2.     Geelong Grammar School

a.     Teaching Positive Education

                                                               i.      “The backbone of the course was discovering and using their own signature strengths.”(p.89)

                                                             ii.      How to build more positive emotion (10th Grade)

1.      Gratitude Journal - What Went Well

2.      ABC Model: How beliefs (B) about an adversity (A) – and not the adversity itself – cause the consequent (C) feelings. Development of ‘real-time resilience’.

3.      Active-constructive responding (ACR) with a friend and the importance of a 3:1 Losada positive-to-negative ratio.

b.      Embedding Positive Education

                                                               i.      Geelong teachers embedded positive education into academic courses, on the sports field, in pastoral counselling, in music and in the chapel.

c.       Living Positive Education

3.  Positive Computing p.93

a.     “Personal Flourishing Assistant” mobile app that tags experiences to build a “positive portfolio” – e.g. four peak moments from the last week.

b.      www.avantgame.com -games that build character strengths.

4.      A new measure of prosperity

a.       “The aim of wealth should not be to blindly produce a higher GDP but to produce more wellbeing.” (p.96)

Sociology, Psychology and Positive Character

Social science has highjacked society’s thinking with the philosophy that the environment, rather than character or heredity is a better explanation of what people do.

The consequence of this is four-fold:

  • Individuals are no longer responsible for their actions, since the causes lie not in the person but in the situation;
  • Social science must isolate the situations that shape crime, ignorance, prejudice, failure and all the other ills that befall human beings, so that these situations can be corrected.
  • The focus of inquiry must be bad events;
  • We are driven by the past rather than drawn to the future.

Positive Psychology has a different approach

  • The world can be bettered by identifying and then shaping character, both good and bad.

Elements of Success

Theory: Achievement = skill x effort  -  Angela Duckworth

  1. 1.      Speed – of thought, processing

a.       Achievement = skill x effort

b.      The more skilled, the faster you can go

c.       The faster, the more material on automatic, the more one knows about the task.

  1. 2.      Slowness:

a.       Speed and anxiety go together

b.      Children who process too fast - Tools of the Mind curriculum

c.       The voluntary, heavyweight processes of achievement, such as planning, refining, checking for errors and creativity.

d.      The faster the speed, the more the knowledge, and thus the more time left for these executive functions to be used.

  1. 3.      The Rate of Learning

a.       How fast new information can be deposited into the back account of automatic knowledge, allowing even more time for the slow executive processes.

  1. 4.      Effort: = time on task   *this has a multiplier effect

a.       “Deliberate Practice” = the amount of time and energy you spend on deliberate practice.

b.      Self-discipline is the character trait that engenders deliberate practice

c.       Measuring self-discipline – composite measure

                                                               i.      Eysenck Junior Impulsiveness scale

                                                             ii.      A parent and teacher self-control rating scale

                                                           iii.      Delay of gratification

d.      GRIT (the never yielding form of self-discipline) test p.121

“The real leverage that you have for more achievement is more effort.” (p.125)

Effort multiplies existing skill and knowledge.