Heritage Hall has announced plans to begin a two-year implementation process of becoming a fully integrated positive education school by 2021.
Heritage Hall is one of the first schools in the United States to implement the program, which combines the science of positive psychology with academic achievement to develop and enhance well-being among the school’s students, faculty, and extended community.
Following months of intensive research into the merits of the program’s evidence-based approach, Heritage Hall elected to adopt this innovative program, which is largely based on the work of renowned psychologist and educator Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center.
The program’s aim is to equip students with the knowledge and life skills necessary to flourish as individuals, while strengthening traditional academic learning. This holistic approach to education will help students to establish optimistic habits of mind, to cultivate resilience and grit, and to develop compassion for others in their daily interactions.
Components of positive education include academics, human flourishing, positive character strengths, positive schools, and positive ecosystems. Positive education at Heritage Hall will include a curriculum of programs and practices that promote key competencies for life beyond the classroom, such as recognizing personal strengths, coping with emotions, developing positive relationships, enhancing social/emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and goal setting.
“When students flourish, they experience a balance of positive emotions, engagement with the world, good relationships with others, a sense of meaning and moral purpose, and the accomplishment of valued goals. Positive Education enables this human flourishing as a complementary aim of a well-rounded education,” explains Heritage Hall Director of Student Life Kim Anderson.
Over the past 50 years, Anderson notes, material standards of living have improved globally. During the same time period, however, the prevalence of depression has risen at an alarming rate; the median age of a first episode of depression has moved from adulthood to early adolescence, thereby increasing students’ struggles to achieve educational and healthy lifestyle goals.
“Importantly,” observes Heritage Hall Assistant Head of School Nick Carter, “there is now a decade of evidence that shows well-being is inextricably linked to improved academic performance. As educators, we recognize the very foundational calling to promote human well-being among our students, faculty, and staff.”