LEARNING TO BE
Our last blog we discussed some ideas of how parents and schools can help the next generation learn ways to ‘be’ that enable young people to become their best selves. This week we explore ways that we can engage with young people so that we can show them how to understand themselves and be of service to others.
Although we are often given an economic rationale for happiness – the more you have the happier you will be! Positive psychology challenges this. There is now a raft of evidence on authentic wellbeing. This includes the value of kindness, collaboration, gratitude, equality and optimism.
So the power of the positive is being aware of your emotions and being able to master them so that they in turn can serve you. How does this manifest in our day to day activities? It is about finding the moments to be grateful, to extend your kindness to those around and to look for the positive and pretty soon it becomes a habit.
In our family we started this by during dinner sharing what each of us was grateful for in our day. Initially it started with everyone having to really think about what they were grateful for and pretty quickly it become so easy to find those things and then it become possible for each of us to list several things in our day that we were grateful for. We had created a positive habit which the kids now were instrumental in ensuring it happened every dinner time.
In our school systems today there are many initiatives that have been instigated to help engage young people it is important for us as parents to be asking the questions as to how effective are these and how are they delivered for optimum outcome for our young people. Two initiatives that come to mind are Service Learning and Social and emotional learning (SEL) both have the potential to really make a difference to our young people if executed effectively and with an individualised framework in mind as we are all different!!! Ask you child’s school if they run either of these initiatives. I have outlined below a brief on this two programs to give you an idea of what to expect.
Many young people learn a different way to be, when they find themselves working in the service of others and reflecting on what they are learning. Because of the benefits in helping others students develop a positive sense of self. This can be in the form of community work, mentoring or leadership roles. Outside of school you can look to replicate something similar by joining your local scouts or guides groups or volunteering at a local animal shelter or elderly home.
Social and emotional learning (SEL):
A good SEL program provides young people with opportunities to reflect on major issues in their lives, talk about alternative ways of being, role play situations and use creative ways to think through solutions to challenges. SEL goals might include identifying personal values, understanding feelings, learning ways to build resilience, thinking through decision making, and what gives life meaning. SEL has been widely researched, and the evidence for its efficacy in promoting positive attitudes, pro-social behaviour, confidence, resilience, engagement and academic outcomes is formidable. Outside of school look to enrol your young person in one of our 2 day workshops where we go through identifying their talents and how to nurture and grow these. Alternatively talk to your school and encourage them to contact our partner yep.org.au who offer this program to schools for free.
In many ways our world is fostering selfishness, greed, narcissism, inequality and blame. If we want a future that takes care of the wellbeing of all, education must have a role in countering some of this – so that our young people learn what brings authentic wellbeing and grow to become the best they can be – not just get the best test results. So I encourage you to push for such initiatives in your schools so that we can help our young people become their best selves and create an awesome future for them all.