Igniting New Momentum for Positive Education
The week of June 25, Deborah K. Heisz, Neora Co-CEO and the CEO of Live Happy, Neora’s sister organization, delivered the opening statement at the World Positive Education Accelerator (WPEA): Second Festival of Positive Education + Appreciative Inquiry Summit. She also contributed the parent perspective in a panel about why the world needs positive education, sharing a personal story about her son and what it took for him to begin to thrive again at school.
“If teachers, administrators, parents and the student’s full support system focus on what’s going right, it’s transformative,” Deborah said on the center stage with four other panelists. “We need to educate our educators that while it makes sense to focus on the challenges to try to right them, what works for the kids is to highlight their strengths and to let them find their own confidence to tackle the obstacles.”
In fact, that’s what positive education is: focusing on the well-being and strengths, not just of students but of everyone in the system: administrators, staff and teachers included.
The goal of the event in Fort Worth, Texas, was to bring together and elevate the inspiration and ideas of more than 1,200 innovators in education, psychology, and business to further the impact of the positive education movement. Both Deborah and Neora Founder and CEO Jeff Olson sit on the board for the International Positive Education Network (IPEN), which co-convened the conference with the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry.
Making People Better
An integral part of the Neora mission is to emphasize the role happiness plays in success. In fact, happiness is a precursor to success. For this reason, we greatly support implementing measures of positive psychology in early childhood to help prepare our kids for a lifetime of joy and happiness. Considering the fast pace with which the global environment is evolving, it becomes essential for our children to develop and grow the necessary skills to be able to flourish in the 21st century.
IPEN supports and drives change to include positive education around the world. “Positive education views school as a place where students not only cultivate their intellectual minds but also develop a broad set of character strengths, virtues and competencies, which together support their well-being,” according to a report issued by IPEN.
The positive psychology movement is important because it focuses on blending academic learning with character and well-being. Especially in today’s world, preparing students with life skills including optimism, resilience, growth mindset, engagement, critical thinking and mindfulness among others is one of the best gifts we can pass along.
Character + Academics
The first few days of the conference included talks by positive psychology powerhouses such as Martin Seligman, Ph.D.; Angela Duckworth, Ph.D.; Sir Anthony Seldon, and of course David Cooperrider, Ph.D., who led the Appreciative Inquiry portion of the conference to ignite new momentum to the international movement of positive education.
Topics addressed in the brainstorming and planning sessions include teacher enrichment and training; what the future of learning will look like for all levels from early education to higher education; new science and research opportunities; national and international policy and business as a force for positive education.
It was especially interesting to hear the student voices, offering scholarships through Live Happy to make sure their ideas were included.
“If we want to make meaningful change through the Appreciative Inquiry process at WPEA, engaging with students will be a critical part of the long-term success of the endeavor,” Deborah says.
Post-summit momentum and structure will continue, and you can count on Neora and Live Happy leadership to be a part of the innovations that emerge from such a momentous gathering.