I’m in Texas and you’re not so ….allow me then to share some of my takeaways with you. Join me in blog if not in body.I know I’m very lucky to be here, I know that some might ask why I get to go all the fun places, I know it’s because my passion for well-being and positive psychology burns bright – these speakers/professors/researchers/psychologists are my heroes.
My journey to Dallas door to door took around 20 hours. I was in the convention centre for eleven hours today. One of about a thousand people. I’ve greedily scoffed some good ol’ Southern mac ‘n’ cheese and now I sit to share some of the thoughts, anecdotes, resources, research and positive psychology that I came here for. I’m still buzzing and can’t wait to see what the next three days brings.
I learned about strength-based parenting strategies, which can be applied to teaching, from Professor Lea Waters. She shared her life experiences of growing up through a difficult childhood, being clinically depressed and anxious for many years. Her siblings experienced this too and sadly, her younger sister committed suicide. Professor Waters also told us that at school, she appeared ‘fine’ to everyone around, that no one knew what was going on inside and this struck such a chord with me. How many of the children entrusted to us daily are having similar experiences that we know nothing about? Isn’t our duty to care for the whole child? If we provide a positive education that includes training on resilience, grit, optimism, hope and how to utilise their personal strengths, isn’t this a way of at least reaching out to those who need it most but may not let us know they need it? Well-being should be threaded throughout daily life for everyone in school, an ecology as Professor Waters so eloquently put it.
I look forward to reading the book and I look forward providing more strength-based teaching to my practice.
I always adore listening to Sir Anthony Seldon speak. A remarkable human being who delivers such an important message with such light and love. Today he reminded us of our power as educators and for that matter humans, to transform the life of another by leading them to the light – what an extraordinary thing. The transport to the light? Positive psychology. (More to come on why positive psychology doesn’t mean being happy all the time or never acknowledging the negative. I didn’t get a cookie in my lunchbox today, I assure you I wasn’t happy about it 😉 )
I could never replicate Sir Anthony’s delivery of his message today, (let’s just say there were many fruity pictures (actual fruit), mindful moments and soothing music) so I’m going to just decipher my notes and give you the gist. But before I do I have to quote my favourite line of the day - ‘Oh there’s such joy in looking at a banana!’ – mindfulness at its finest!
1 – Smell the silicon
Five million years ago we learned about fire, clothes and hunting from each other. Five thousand years ago organised education started to form. Five hundred years ago, mass education began in the form of paper printing etc. The next era? Appreciative Inquiry revolution. Learning from each other in innovative new ways for the greater good. In this era, be sure to smell the silicon and ensure you stay human.
2 – It’s happiness stupid
We must learn the difference between happiness and pleasure. Sir Anthony hilariously referenced 50 Shades of Grey as a book/movie that has made no person happy, ever. It’s 100% about pleasure, which is fine, but not to be mistaken for the true happiness, love, deep learning and harmony of being happy. Instead of getting more of this and having that, find a deep meaningful joy in life.
3 – Bring it on
Sir Anthony fondly called the audience part of the IPEN family. We have a duty to disseminate our knowledge and research to others to help improve education and the well-being of all involved. A duty to support ourselves and those around us to flourish and live a good life. This blog post is a little of my contribution to the dissemination of the IPEN message.
4 – Be the business
‘Don’t be grumpy’ was the main take away here. This slide (the one with the picture of a banana) was probably my favourite. You’ve got to walk the talk. You can’t say that these things are important if you don’t do them yourself. Be generous with your knowledge and don’t be greedy with it. Embody the message and be sincere. I’m still a work in progress here as many of my colleagues may tell you whilst Mindful Miss Green is busy having a mini meltdown about report data etc 😊
5 – Think Holistically
Education previously narrowed the mind to a finishing point, for example, achieving grades to do a certain course at university. However education as we know it is changing. We are not just filling the brains with facts to be regurgitated during a particular two hours in an exam hall, we are brains, we are hearts I loved the reminder to open our hearts in the truest sense of the term. We all know that feeling when your heart melts, something releases inside and everything else falls away. Imagine a world without an unkind, judgemental running commentary of self and others. That’s the kind of open heart the world can have.
6 – The brain has two halves
Positive Psychology leans to the left but to apply it we need the right. I love painting. I love singing. I sing in the shower at home (ONLY home, not in my Dallas hotel room in case any of the other guests hear me, which is the whole point I suppose, let go of the fear, another blog post perhaps) But I couldn’t tell you the last time I allowed myself to forget about the school admin, planning, data, uni reading, writing and general worrying about it, long enough to actually pick up my paint brushes, oil and canvas and just paint. Sir Anthony suggested to use the summer to do just that, to start loving the right side of the brain to do creative things to balance ourselves. I felt like he was speaking right to me. This is how we flourish.
7 – No time to waste
The picture of an apple reminded us that with the right conditions the apple is ripe and full, full of goodness. But ignored for too long, can decay and become redundant. We must give young people to the chance to grow and flourish and the time is now.
8 – Stronger together
When you look at IPEN there are many humans, souls, teams working together for the greater good. Joining with colleagues all over the world is best practice and if we learn from each other, the children benefit. Combining those who work with mindfulness, strengths , resilience etc can only make the movement more powerful. We are stronger together.
9 – Bu-bye binary
In the 20th century we had binary thinking, me against you, competing to learn more than the next and get the best. Now we can have academics and a holistic, positive education Binary thinkers think this is hard to do but there is a pathway paved with mindfulness that can help these thinkers to be less judgemental, less critical, allowing people to just be with each other without the running commentary.
10 – Embrace the unknown.
We need to let go of our obsession with wanting all the answers. Sir Anthony encouraged us not to do what some world leaders do and dismiss the spiritual and some people’s religious truths. If people have no experience of something or it is not their thinking does not mean that it isn’t true to someone else. Positive psychologists, educators and humans in general must be open to the prospects of joy and to the spiritual. Move beyond pleasure to happiness and joy. The most joyful moments creep up on you unexpectedly, when the cognitive mind starts thinking about the joy, that’s when it usually fades. I guess the same could be said for when one experiences the spiritual. Just embrace it.
I heard many other wonderful speakers today but it’s 9:30pm and I’m going to take off my appreciative inquiry (cowboy) hat until the morning.
So although many of you would love to be here and are unable to, I hope this provides at least some insight into what I’m doing here.
And in the words of the very kind man who spent some time chatting with me, keep smiling.