31 July, 2011

Well-being Theory - Positive Education

Authentic Happiness - revised

Martin Seligman has revised his Authentic Happiness theory (2002) on the basis that it over-emphasised feeling good.

In his latest book Flourish he has outlined his Well-Being Theory as follows

Well-being is a construct, and well-being (not happiness) is the topic of positive psychology.

There are five measurable elements (PERMA) that contribute towards well-being:
  • Positive Emotions – experiencing joy and pleasure
  • Engagement (or flow) – being consciously involved in our activities
  • Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others
  • Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives; being engaged with or serving something larger than ourselves
  • Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.
Follow this link for more on Positive Education.


  1. Consider three students with whom you work: one high status/high achiever; one average; one who is in difficulties. Rate each student on a scale of 1-10 for each of the measurable elements.  What common beliefs does this reveal, confirm, challenge?
  2. Retiring? Returning to work or study? Changing employment? How are each of the PERMA elements likely to change? And what might you need to attend to?

And Martin Seligman introduces Positive Psychology in a TED Talk

25 July, 2011

Explicit teaching & positive reinforcement of expectations

One school's example

The expectations of Tasmania's Evandale Primary School are based on PURRing! Students are explicitly taught to P.U.R.R.
  • Perseverance
    • By always trying our best and taking pride in our achievement.  
    • Learn all we can by listening, participating and completing work on time
  • Understanding
    • For each other, being courteous, cooperative and friendly
  • Respect
    • Our school - by keeping classrooms and grounds clean, tidy and free of litter, vandalism, graffiti.  
    • Respect other people - their feelings, personal space and property
  • Responsibility
    • Care for our equipment.  
    • Follow established classroom rules and routines.  
    •  Work, move and play safely
Students receive recognition of positive behaviour with PURR points:
  • 20 = icy pole; 
  • 40 = classroom book; 
  • 60 = small prize; 
  • 80 = passport to help out in another class; 
  • 100 = recognition morning tea.
This positive reinforcement scheme is a nice example of using "free and frequent" reinforcement to build a continuum of recognition.
Thanks to Deb Rigby at Evandale for sharing her school's great practice!