What is “Positive Education”?

I like to tout myself as a ‘positive educator.’   But what does that mean, really?  Aren’t all educators positive and supportive.  Shouldn’t all educators encourage their students to learn in a positive and creative way?  Positive Education is a new and growing wheelhouse that is based on  the growing positive psychology movement. It has made a profound difference in my practice both in counselling and teaching.


“Positive education represents a paradigm shift: away from viewing education merely as a route to academic attainment, towards viewing it as a place where students can cultivate their intellectual minds while developing a broad set of character strengths and
virtues and wellbeing. This in a nutshell is the ‘character + academics’ approach to education.”
James O’Shaughnessy & Emily Larson IPEN


Positive Education draws on an emphasis of individual strengths and personal motivation to promote learning.  Unlike traditional school approaches in which teachers attempt to tailor their material to a mythical ‘average’  student and move the class all together using the material through one teaching and testing style, positive schooling teachers use techniques that focus on the well-being of individual students.  Teachers use methods such as developing tailored goals for each student to engender learning and working with them to develop the plans and motivation to reach their goals.


Positive Education looks at the student as whole who needs all aspects of social, emotional and intellectual development fostered.  Positive educators take the time to develop emotional intelligence and personal character strengths of their students by encouraging gratitude, kindness, compassion and mindfulness.  By connecting to each students’ strengths, positive educators are able to help students find success both in academics and within themselves.


The International Positive Education Network is hosting it’s inaugural Positive Education Festival this summer in Dallas and I’m excited to not only attend but also have the privilege to present.  I’ll be discussing what positive education looks like from the front lines of public schools in BC as both teacher and counsellor.


If you want more information on how to incorporate positive education into your classroom or your school community, please feel free to contact Lisa Baylis.

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