Discover the wonders of positive learning.

“We need to make education so much fun that students can’t help but learn.”
— Sebastian Thrun, computer scientist and educator

Think back to your experiences as a student. You were young, looking forward to the future, and navigating your way through an education system that promised fulfillment and security. School was a place to explore your talents, improve your abilities, and make new friends! The smell of new textbooks was intoxicating, and etching your answer on a chalkboard could fill you with confidence. For all intents and purposes, school should have been fun.

But more often than not, it wasn’t. Somehow, we got it into our heads that school didn’t have to be fun, that fun and learning were mutually exclusive concepts. Work and play, entirely separated. Learning was merely a matter of information acquisition, and having fun in school just… happened by accident.

What happens when this kind of attitude is applied at an institutional level? Elementary school students are given two to three hours worth of homework each day, more drudgery than any child deserves. Academic anxiety piles up, and 49 percent of children end up suffering from burnout.

This doesn’t have to be the case! Learning should be a joyous experience. And in order to achieve that, we need to go back to the basics of education. What is learning if not the spark of the new, the thrill of a perspective expanding?

 

What is positive education?

To put it simply, positive education believes that the relationship between learning and fun should be complementary. Fun enhances education and vice versa! It emphasizes the importance of caring for students’ psychological welfare, and in this way, primes kids for future success.

This education philosophy has a basis in psychology. According to Dr. David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, happiness directly plays into brain power. “There is a large and growing body of research which indicates that people experiencing positive emotions perceive more options when trying to solve problems, solve more non-linear problems that require insight, [and they] collaborate better and generally perform better overall.” Think of it as being in the zone. It’s not just intelligence that also goes into problem-solving, but a sense of determination.

Positive education believes in passion. Being passionate about something, whether it’s one’s main gig in a field of expertise or a side hobby, can give people a sense of identity and motivation. This isn’t to say that one must constantly be “on fire” for everything rather, the idea of passion should teach us that education should make us feel alive!

As you might have figured out by this point, happiness isn’t a one-note feeling, but a multifaceted human experience! It accommodates other feelings like, excitement for the new, determination to meet new challenges, a hunger for the uncharted. It’s important to develop that in kids, because that’s how they accomplish great things.

 

The fruits of joy

The greatest gift positive education can give is, well, a happy child! We always say that children are the future, so it stands to reason that we make the future, the next generation, confident in their abilities and equipped to stand against adversity. In happiness, there is strength.

All other concrete benefits of a positive education, then, are just extensions of this commitment to care for mental health. Take it from Dr. Christine Carter, author of the bestselling parenting book Raising Happiness. “ On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love. They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.”

It doesn’t stop there. Findings from various cases show a link between positive education and “enhanced student self-efficacy, positive emotions, a feeling of school belongingness, and improvements in the quantity and quality of social peer ties.” Findings also show decreased symptoms of depression, and increased resilience. From this education philosophy, we see a clear commitment to human development.

Some might be surprised to know that positive education isn’t solely the job of educational institutions. It’s a collaborative undertaking, between the school and the parents! Doing something as simple as talking with their kids, asking them about their dreams, and having back-and-forth exchanges with them, can make a big impact, at least according to researchers from MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania.

This is all to say that emphasizing the significance of psychological well-being in education, can set your child on the path to success. In other words, it can push them in the right direction.

Given all this information, why isn’t this already the norm for education?

 

Changing the paradigm

The truth is, the education system prizes performance over everything else. To look at grades as mere numbers, to send our kids to school just to commodify their skill sets, to tell them “Just get through this school year, or else you won’t have a job” — it cheapens what it means to learn new things, and gives us a narrow definition of success.

The mainstream education paradigm says, “Be better than everyone else.” Positive education says, “Be the best that you can be.”

Pearce Durst, Associate Professor at North Central College, said it best: “If life inherently involves the pursuit of happiness, education should prepare students to face that overall challenge.” He continues, “We as educators need to ask ourselves how our classes make a larger contribution to the genuine personal happiness of each individual student — not just the daily amusement of the student or fulfilling the requirements needed for a future job.”

Parents might feel suspicious about extracurriculars, but the truth is, they don’t need to be. Don’t write them off as mere distractions — research shows that after-school activities can actually boost academic achievement and attendance, and instill values like teamwork and responsibility.

It’s now more important than ever to think about how to make kids happy while they’re still in school. In this time of COVID-19, it’s much easier to get tired, feel burnout, and think that all the work we’re doing is all for naught.

 

The pursuit of happiness

What’s imperative, then, is to find an education partner that cares for the success and mental health of your kids, especially in this time of uncertainty.

British School Kuala Lumpur is committed to the philosophy of positive education. With exceptional British faculty, world-class facilities, and an approach to education that distinguishes it from other universities, BSKL promises to secure a future for your child, full of both success and joy.

We change the paradigm by cultivating an environment that empowers and encourages kids, and puts them in charge of their own destiny. 

Part of that starts with training. Our educators are trained with a holistic understanding of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), and teach students to see how different fields and disciplines interplay with each other. 

BSKL also signed up for the Assessment Lead Programme, a course by teacher training business Evidenced Based Education. The programme, according Deputy Head of Primary Thomas Kimber, is indeed evidenced-based and well-researched, provides teachers tools for continued professional development, and even says “we have moved best practice forward in BSKL.” 

Take a look at the school now — it is the first school in Malaysia to be graded as excellent, by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, in all areas of educational provision.

When it comes to being happy, start ‘em young. Positive education is the key. Visit the BSKL website today!

Discover the wonders of positive learning at the British International School of Kuala Lumpur! Book a virtual discovery meeting with their admissions team today — just contact Carl Esposito at +603 7727 7775 or via email at admissions@britishschool.edu.my.



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