There seems to be endless acrimony and polarization in our national conversation on so many topics.  That makes it especially exciting to me when I see important and productive issues for which there appears to be agreement.

While education has no shortage of polarizing issues, one important area – what values do parents believe kids need to learn – evidences some convergence across typically diverging perspectives.

A Pew Research study of parenting attitudes among with a nationally representative sample of more than 3000 adults, asking parents about the relative importance of 12 values kids need to learn. A full 93% said teaching children to be responsible is “especially important”.

But what does it mean to teach responsibility and how can this happen in schools?

According to Peterson, Park and Seligman responsibility is not unidimensional but a composite of the character strengths of perseverance (goal-directed action despite the presence of challenges, difficulties, and discouragement) and team work (working side by side with others on a small and large scale) Perseverance and teamwork are 2 of the 24 characters strengths, present in every individual, identified by Park and Seligman in their ground-breaking research that helped launch the field of positive psychology. 

Breaking responsibility down into its primary components, we can begin to organize learning and the design of learning communities to actively develop these strengths.  (see an example here)

In fact, developing strengths in students, is a focus of the emerging field of Positive Education. It combines a rigorous approach to academics with the science of positive psychology and character strengths to equip learners of all ages to flourish. 

Around the world – Australia, U.K., Mexico, India, UAE – schools from K-12 to higher education are incorporating positive education approaches in their practices.  As a result they are seeing positive impacts on learning outcomes, including: positive peer relationships, wellbeing, learning career potential, and more.

For this reason we are so pleased and honored to work with David Cooperrider and Champlain College to create the World Positive Education Accelerator.   The summit is now in the design phase and will take place in the summer of 2018 in Dallas.  It is expected that 1000 leaders from around the world will gather to catalyze innovations with the potential to transform the face of education.  Take a look here for more information!