Our hyperconnectivity to electronic devices, the disruptive force of a global pandemic impacting our social connections and cognitive challenges related to being inundated with massive amounts of information and a struggle to filter all of these inputs presents obstacles to our ability to maintain a focus on what truly matters. The results of an engaging educational experience should produce human flourishing, the production of positive emotions, personal engagement with the world and creating a life full of meaning. To state it simply, to flourish is the ability to live a good life. Flourishing people are happy and satisfied as they tend to feel mastery and self-acceptance and they believe in personal growth and their capacity to change.
The concept of flourishing values both physical and emotional health, recognizing this is best achieved when people (read students) are able to use their values, talents, and abilities to pursue personal goals, self care and community interests. Flourishing is worth considering in education because deeply embedded in the idea of learning is the concept of growth, development, and holistic well-being of individuals and communities. A focus on what it means to flourish allows us to understand that by working independently and collectively we can promote living a fulfilling and purposeful life where people (read students) have the ability to do what they want to do and be who they want to be. For this to occur schools must focus on self care, community well being, meeting student emotional needs, and developing trust and cooperation in relationships between students and students and their teachers. Human flourishing is supported and promoted at school when learning experiences occur in supportive environments, where talent is recognized and leveraged for further learning, where educators’ interactions with young people stimulate a belief in themselves and their abilities, and where we recognize that we need to learn how to be healthy and care for others.
School needs to be a place where we create this nurturing learning environment as well as promote purposeful activities, cultivate self-motivation and generate goal oriented experiences. Research demonstrates that positive thoughts and actions produce emotions that allow young people to enjoy a wider range of cognitive, social and physical health related opportunities. Promoting flourishing should be a goal of educators and the direct result of learning. By helping young people to flourish we will all be better prepared to flourish ourselves.
See “Authentic Happiness” Martin Seligman https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/newsletters/flourishnewsletters/newtheory