Nurturing resilient minds through positive education

Katrina Mankani, Director of Positive Education, Sunmarke School and Regent International Schools
Katrina Mankani, Director of Positive Education, Sunmarke School and Regent International Schools discusses the importance of fostering emotional resilience and well-being in students alongside academic pursuits 

Fostering emotional resilience in students is a crucial priority in the rapidly evolving educational landscape. Amidst the demands of rigorous academic curricula, it’s easy to overlook this aspect. However, research has consistently underlined the importance of character development and emotional well-being for not only augmenting academic performance but also enhancing life satisfaction.  

The implementation of positive education revolves around four pillars — Learn, Live, Teach, and Embed. Each pillar plays a unique role in cultivating an emotionally healthy and resilient generation. 

Learn: building the foundation 

The journey towards the successful implementation of positive education begins with an essential first step — comprehensive training for all staff members. This isn’t merely a one-off seminar or workshop, but an immersive experience designed to familiarise educators with the philosophy and practical applications of positive education.  

It’s not just about understanding the theory; it’s about grasping how it can be effectively applied in real-world educational settings. However, the implementation of positive education extends beyond the school gates.  

Parental involvement is key to creating a consistent, supportive environment for students. Parents need to be educated about the principles and benefits of positive education so that they can reinforce these practices at home. This could involve parent workshops, regular communication about the school’s positive education initiatives, and providing resources for parents to use at home. 

Live: practicing the principles 

Living the principles of positive education means more than simply understanding its tenets. This could involve integrating mindfulness exercises into the school day, encouraging students to practice gratitude regularly, or creating opportunities for acts of kindness. Each of these practices contributes to a positive mindset and cultivates a sense of well-being.  

The school environment should also encourage positive relationships, open communication, and empathetic understanding. This could be achieved through initiatives such as peer mentorship programmes, collaborative projects and regular class meetings where students can voice their thoughts and feelings. These practices foster a sense of belonging and community, contributing to students’ emotional well-being. It is important for schools to structure their behaviour management policies to prioritise relationship-building over compliance. Rather than a punitive approach, schools should promote understanding, empathy and restorative practices.  

Teach: incorporating into the curriculum 

Teaching the principles of positive education requires a strategic approach. It’s not about adding extra lessons to an already packed curriculum. Instead, it’s about weaving the principles of positive education into existing lessons across all subjects.  

Cross-curricular connections provide opportunities to integrate discussions on character and well-being into all lessons, from literature to mathematics. In addition to integrating positive education into existing lessons, interestingly some schools have introduced dedicated positive education classes. These classes delve deeper into topics such as character strengths, resilience and emotional well-being. They provide students with a dedicated space to explore these concepts, engage in self-reflection and develop important life skills. 

Embed: creating a sustained culture 

The final pillar of implementing positive education is embedding it within the school’s culture. This involves aligning school policies and practices with the principles of positive education. For example, a school’s mission statement might be revised to reflect a commitment to fostering well-being and resilience, or a school’s assessment policy might be adjusted to include measures of character strengths and social-emotional skills.  

Embedding positive education in the school culture also involves reviewing and adapting school programmes regularly to ensure they continue to nurture emotional well-being effectively. This could involve collecting feedback from students and staff, analysing data on student well-being, and staying abreast of the latest research in positive education. 

The impact: a resilient generation 

Embracing positive education cultivates an environment where students are academically successful and emotionally robust. By equipping students with the skills to face life’s challenges with optimism, we’re not just enhancing their future prospects but fostering a generation that is emotionally equipped to navigate life’s complexities. By implementing the approach of positive education, we can foster an environment that empowers students to be academically successful, emotionally resilient and socially adept.