Day One at the International Positive Education Network’s (IPEN) Festival of Positive Education was a success. We heard from educators from all over the world who reaffirmed our focus on strengths-based learning and encouraged our thinking for the future. Here are a few key themes from the first day.

Driving Change From the Inside out… And The Outside In.

Sustainability through educating educators, and educating parents, on strengths-based learning.

Alejandro Adler delivered a speech about how teaching well-being enhances academic performance, which is a theme that has shifted academic culture. To quote Adler, “well-being is skill-based and learnable”, and it is vital that this well-being is learned first and foremost by educators. It’s the educators that are driving this change, and by investing in them, we are investing in our children.

To take it a step further, Jennifer Moss reinforced this theme by discussing the “Contagion Effect.” Happy people create a social contagion with people around them. When we work with adults first in the system, we have a better chance of making a rapid and long-lasting shift in the school culture. By focusing on the positive strengths of people, we are fueling the contagion of positivity.

Lastly, Lea Waters focused on parents building strengths in children. When parents see and build the strengths of their children, it:

1) Protects kids against depression and anxiety

2) Increases life satisfaction and self-confidence

3) Helps kids cope with stress

4) Enhances self-efficacy

It is our responsibility to educate parents – not just educators – about a strengths-based approach through studies, communications and policies.

Moving Positive Education Forward. 

To quote Sir Anthony Seldon, “We have the power to change people’s lives. Let’s make this a transformative conference.”

Seldon gave an enlightening and rallying speech on the vitality of the fourth education revolution, where he outlined the following Top 10 Keys for Moving Positive Education Forward.

1) Smell the Silicon: The Importance of Human, Personalized Education.

2) It’s Happiness, stupid. Pleasure is about objects, happiness is about being human.

3) How to do education better by using research to build understanding.

4) Be the business! Don’t be demanding, angry and aggressive. Be yourself.

5) Think holistically. We are not just our brains. We need to open our hearts.

6) Your brain has two halves. The left half is sequential and logical, the right half is creative and compassionate.

7) There is no time to waste. Pay attention to young people. Too many young lives are lost.

8) We are stronger together. We need to integrate our work.

9) Bye-bye binary- be obvious, and move away from judgment.

10) Embrace the unknown and be curious. Move beyond pleasure to joy.

Throughout the conference, we’re jotting down key words and phrases that stand out from the rest. Have any to add? Comment below.

“The role of leadership is one of the most underrated elements of growing wellbeing in schools. If you have it, you’ll find evidence of transformation. If you don’t have it, it can crumble your efforts.”- Mathew A. White

“Three necessary evolutions in positive education: From curriculum to culture, from educational to ecological, from program to practice.”- Lea Waters

“Change comes from the bottom up, the top down, and then you squeeze from the sides.” Lea Waters quoting David Cooperrider

“ What are we going to do with human prosperity? I believe wealth is NOT meant to create more wealth. Wealth is meant to create wellbeing.”- Martin Seligman

“I love grit. But there is something bigger and more important than grit going on right now… it’s character.” – Angela Duckworth, UPenn

It’s (positive education) not just curriculum. It’s the philosophy that puts well-being at the heart. It’s a way of life.“- Rhiannon McGee

“The X factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.” – Alejandro Adler, UPenn

“To prepare young people for a changing world, we need to support them in their self-discovery and awareness and increase their empathy.” – Tecmilenio session