Ecological Positive Education: A Necessary Paradigm Shift

Walker, Amy
MAPP Capstone Project
Isaac Prilleltensky
August 1, 2010

Both positive psychology and positive education are well-conceived: positive psychology as a science of well-being, with the mutual flourishing of individuals, organizations, and communities as its core goal; and positive education as a vehicle for applying positive psychology research and achieving this goal. However, positive psychology has grown so rapidly in recent years that in practice it is inadvertently reflecting and therefore perpetuating the predominantly individualistic culture from which it emerges. This poses a number of problems, including this individualistic imbalance being reflected in positive education, and ultimately in hindering the ability for either to achieve their full vision. This paper provides an overview of the development of positive education thus far. It then advocates for an expansion of positive education’s definition through an ecological approach. An ecological approach is a systems-based perspective, which considers each part of a system and their interconnections. In order for both the experiences and the outcomes of positive education to be ecological, positive education must dramatically shift perceptions about the nature of education itself, so that its scope includes learning across and throughout life. Implications of this definition, including potential obstacles, are outlined. This paradigm shift should be made and the sooner the better, before current, less ecological models of positive education become entrenched.

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