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Introduction.

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the world” (Mandela, 2017). Education plays an important
role in today’s society and there are different types of schools which use
different type of system serving to educate people all over the world. Everyone
has his/her own opinions about ideal school and ideal classroom. The most
important element of ideal classroom is positive education. This study aims to
discuss the main features which make education positive.

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In an ideal
school children flourish from an early age as their needs are met in a positive
way and they are always encouraged. Seligman considers that making and using
own signature strengths give more success than spending time on making an
effort to correct weaknesses (Seligman, 2002). He and a group of researchers
believe that more well – being is synergistic with more desirable process of
gaining knowledge.

In order to
achieve my goal, I divided the assignment into five sections which are followed
by each other for fulfilling the desired goal. First of all, I am going to
analyze acquiring and imparting the knowledge through the promotion of positive
education in an ideal primary school. In the next sections I am going to
explain deeply which methods and tools the teachers should use in order to give
positive education to the primary pupils of an ideal school by covering the
following topics: The Physical Classroom Arrangement in an Ideal School;
Successful student motivation and engagement; Applying values in the
curriculum. At the end, this study will I will figure out the influence of this
theory upon my teaching practice and whether appropriate to use it in the
primary sphere or not.

Promoting positive education in a
Primary School.

“It
is the right moment to the latest prosperousness that connects well – being
with wealth” (Seligman et.   al., p 308).
This long period of being prosperous should completely begin from the primary
years of education in my school as the primary stage is the best chance to get
young children the best possible start in life. Moreover, it is not deniable
that the child improves not in isolation but in the context of family,
neighbourhood, community. Therefore, children’s primary learning is a matter
for the whole of society. That’s why positive education should be applied from
children’s early years.

Positive
education is a diversified way of teaching and learning, drawing emphasis on
children’s strength, capabilities and psychological well-being. Seligman (2009)
worked on the attributes of positive education in his effort to incorporate
happiness and well-being of students into the conventional modes of teaching.
He has described it as a way of instilling positive attitude to education in
order to lessen the signs of depression in young people and let them be more
active during the lessons, so as to improve psychological resilience and
contribute to increased sense of happiness. In my ideal school teachers do everything
in their power to help students cope with the stress and distractions of
everyday life and they pay attention to not what students are doing wrong, but
rather what they are doing right and consequently capitalize on the latter. If
we are focusing on strengths, then we are afforded a possibility to reveal the
aspects that make students happier, given the novel sensation of power in their
hands. By the help of this we can promote positive education in the school
which allows us to discover the individual strength of each student throughout
the learning process.

Goleman
states: “Learners who are worried, angry or are in depression do not get
the knowledge; those who are battling with these feelings do not become aware
of the knowledge in an efficient way as feelings overcome concentration”
(Goleman, D., 1995:78). This notion reinforces the idea that healthy and happy
attitude towards knowledge acquisition has a potential to help students easily
progress in their studies. Moreover this assumption stands to reason especially
if we consider that emotions are crucial in almost every aspect of school, home
and society. That’s why in an ideal school teachers are working hard to create
positive environment and establish positive relations with the learners.

An ideal school encourages its students to
think and create for themselves. Children must not take whatever they read or
hear for granted. They must be able to make their own opinion and exchange
views with others. They would be regularly praised for their good work, and
taught to praise others. Consequently, producing a positive, ideal school
necessitates time and attempt but it can give enjoyment to teaching and
learning too and everyone will be satisfied of becoming a part of it.    

To my mind we can make an immediate
difference with quite simple and powerful applications. What I do in my own
classroom is that I start each meeting or class by asking students to share one
good thing that made them happy or something they are grateful for. This will
promote positive education as children will focus on what is going well and it
will build positive emotions. We can see it also in Bottery’s view:  “Every child is a law unto itself” (Bottery,
1990, p.9). Therefore, it is of utmost significance to demonstrate extreme care
towards each individual child’s feelings, to pay attention to the values they
hold and be aware of separate incidents that happen in their daily lives.
However, some restrictions are to be applied to such an attitude: “if overmuch
insistence and attentiveness is pointed on perceiving a child’s actions and
trying to attain regularity, the child may spread a disagreement and that
disadvantageous response may change the behavior” (Festinger, L., 1957).

Overall, teachers and schools are uniquely
placed to make a positive difference to mental health at the community level.
If we can teach kids life-long skills to build wellbeing, we are nurturing a
generation better equipped to avoid the mental health issue so prevalent today.
By applying a positive lens to their education, through a range of tools and
approaches based on the science of positive psychology, they will be more
likely to develop a growth mindset that sustains lifelong learning. Consequently,
producing a positive, ideal school necessitates time and attempt but it can
give enjoyment to teaching and learning too and everyone will be satisfied of
becoming a part of it.

The physical classroom arrangement
in an Ideal School

Physical classroom environment involves
arranging physical space and organizing instructional resources. Classroom
resources should be managed in an effective way in order to be able to do a lot
of different educational activities. During the arrangement of the classroom
all areas of the classroom should be considered. Secure, tidy, cozy, engaging
and attractive classroom can encourage learning and support in making an
efficient classroom community. The physical classroom arrangement has the
potentiality to inspire wanted behavior or can be a factor in learners’
misbehavior (Daniels, 1998).

Classroom arrangement plays a vital role in
students’ behavior and it has an influence on accomplishment too (Pace and
Price, 2005) .Arranging physical space includes conveniently arranged
furniture; flexible seating arrangement; tidy, well ventilated, noise free
classroom. The physical features in the classroom has to be located in areas
where they could be viewed well and be available for use. The seating
arrangement should be appropriate to the content and activities of the daily
lesson plan. During the lessons lightning and ventilation must be provided
properly and everybody’s comfort should be taken into consideration. Additional
space can be used as a quiet reading corner for those who have finished their
tasks earlier than others.

 

Successful student motivation and
engagement

Features like mental capacity, academic
potentiality and motivation are individual ones that take a significant part in
students’ academic accomplishment. Extremely
motivated students are distinguished without difficulties as motivation has a
big influence on the choices they make. That’s why they are more independent,
enthusiastic, confident; they work hard and deal with challenges and setbacks
in an energetic way. Inspections in Kenyan school show that there were students
with an appropriate manner and full of respect with no motivation and
curiosity, that made them “robots, who are aware of the facts, but are not able
to put them down to handle” (Teachers TV, 2006a). And according to that fact if
students understand the value of knowledge their motivation to learn increases.
Motivated students take more notice, they work on the work to be done directly,
they understand their own potentiality clearly and they appear to be satisfied
and confident.

An educator has little influence on the increase
of learners’ mental capacity and his/her foremost duty is producing and
applying motivation (Ball, 1994). Motivation is displayed in the one’s effort
to accomplish his/her responsibilities by spending a lot of effort required and
maintaining. It can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic (Celikoz, 2009).
Intrinsic motivation is a kind of motivation that is driven by an interest and
it comes from inside of the individual while extrinsic motivation comes from
outside source. In intrinsic motivation self – esteem is achieved and a general
feeling of doing a good job is experienced. Besides that, it is named “flow” –
a state of mind or state of ability we observe during the time that we are
exactly have a part in what we are engaged, “more or less like being in a river
and taken on by the flow of the water”. (Czikszentmihalyi 1997).  “Flow” happens when students realize that they
will get feedback for what they are doing and they will be rewarded. At this
time extrinsic motivation happens.

Extrinsic motivation refers to a desire to
pursue a subject for reasons outside of the individual, such as rewards,
grades, parental or instructor approval, etc. These individuals are motivated
to learn a subject not because they want to learn it, but because learning the
material will get them good grades, parental praise, all of which are external
rewards. Teachers set up reward systems for reading a certain number of books,
for completing homework or for successfully finishing tasks. Rewards work best
if they are achievable so students do not give up. One student might never get
a reward for getting 100% on the spelling test, but that student could receive
a reward for something else, like being kind to another student. If most of the
rewards go to the same five students, other students will give up. Students can
get their homework turned in on time, but they may not be able to get 100%. For
the special needs students in the class, we can modify individual rewards as
necessary so they are not left out. An extrinsic reward system can teach
students to put in hard work in order to get a reward which is another life
skill for them. To my mind, by combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivators we
can help students learn the subject at hand as well as valuable life skills.

Following the mentioned states we can see
that flow and motivation are closely connected with each other. From my own
experience till now I can bring back to my mind that when I was 8 years old my
English language tutor handed me a list of words to learn during summer
holidays. I was spending hours on learning those words. I still remember how I
was happy when I was challenged by the goal. And now knowing the theory I became
fully aware of the name of this practice – FLOW. It is a very significant part
of Positive Education.

For clear motivation there should be
answers to the following questions: how and why to motivate. In an ideal
primary school teachers have to motivate students by giving them understandable
learning goals and spread excitement, praise them or set the classroom jobs.
The answer to “why to motivate”  is the
learners are more in learning when they know what they are learning for.  That’s why teacher needs to introduce the
task and give the right steps for doing the task. Children can come across with
some challenges in doing this task and teacher should observe whether his/her
student welcomes challenges independently or not. By the means of this teacher
will know the exact time to motivate.

There is a quotation which can be an
example of that motivation is a crucial factor in the process where children
gain knowledge and the teacher has to give the reason to the students to learn”.
You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb a little”. –
Andrew Karnegi. Student motivation is an important factor in getting
qualitative education. If the learners are motivated to achieve academic
success, they will be proud of their high marks, and get upset because of low
marks. Optimistic mood produces students with broader attention and who think
more creatively.       

 Norrish
and Vella – Brodrick (2009, p. 275) consider the addition of individual’s
strengths and exploration of optimistic emotions to the existing knowledge as
the main aim of positive psychology. The main strategies for increasing the
motivation in my ideal school should be as the following: Give students
understandable learning goals in order to understand what they are working for;
let students have knowledge that is relevant to real life situations; have
students realize and acknowledge the value of what they are learning and its
influence on all course; the last and the most important one not to forget
rewarding the children.

 According
to Ryan and Deci (2000) the engaged humans are determined, ambitious and they
are eager to know everything that they can face in a situation which has a lot
of challenges. For the teachers in my ideal school engagement of the students
should mean to attract the children’s attention in a way that increases their
knowledge. There are many ways of engaging the students: Students are allowed
to take part in collaborative learning; they are provided with various hands on
resources; supportive classroom environment is created for them. Actually,
students are engaged when they are involved together. It is important to
consider the grouping of learners carefully, for example if we are talking
about EAL classroom, placing early stage bilingual learners with peers who can
provide good models of English, and / or share the same first language. Group
work can be organized to ensure that all members of each group have a role to play
and are expected to participate. Collaborative activities help learners to
understand the importance of active listening.

I strongly believe that student engagement
is not about students learn content, but it is really about their learning and
having tools  to learn skills that will
let them solve any sort of challenge or task they might come across. Students
are really engaged when a teacher hear them talking about a task and discussing
with each other , when they are producing excellent collaborative work and when
they are not only getting in deep understanding but also they are eager to get
new information. The teacher has to be encourage his/her students to realize
that they are working together in order to attain the same goal.  Shernoff et al. (2003) made a suggestion that
students who are engaged in the learning process are productive in getting
knowledge and are more likely to complete school in a successful way than not
engaged students.

There are two types of grouping: heterogeneous
grouping (mixed ability children work in the same group and homogeneous
grouping (the learners are chosen according to their ability levels). I prefer
to choose students to the groups depending on our purpose in the teaching
process. If I am going to help struggling learners, I will choose
heterogeneous. But if I want to motivate medium ability children to study at
high level, I will choose homogeneous. But there are some disadvantages of
group work. For example: When in a group especially a large one, it is very
easy for the child to avoid work and leave it to others to complete. It may
take some time, before someone actually pays attention to this fact. One can
work, in whatever way possible and can also get acknowledgement for work done
by someone else, as it is team work and the person is part of the team.

Engagement related with students is often
applied to develop students’ desire to take part in activities held in school,
such as being present in class, submitting required work and following the
directions given by the teacher. Student engagement is vital not only to
learning but also to personal development. A learner who is engaged with an
activity accepts it pleasurable, uses it regularly and keep at it in spite of
the difficulties ((Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2005).

 

Applying values in the curriculum

Raths et al (1978) define values as a
component of daily life and containing more than just correct or incorrect,
satisfactory or unsatisfactory, real or unreal. He sees the values working
under the conditions of weighing and balancing, conflicting demands, and at
last a movement that reflects a multitude of forces. Our behavior is often
affected by our values. If somebody would ask us what is a “value”, the response
presumably would be the conditions that we consider decisive for us and the
things that we assess remarkably. Values assist us in focusing and aligning our
life choices. For ex: we grow, we learn, we appreciate, we decide. Beck (1990,
2) explains values as the things developing an individual’s happiness. He added
objects, activities and experience to those things.

Value is a principal that guides a
behavior. Kohlberg (Kohlberg &Turiel, 2006) claims that teachers are
already included in values education, sometimes without even becoming fully
aware of that they are teaching values. For example: values can be connected
with subjects in order to make a sense of learning. And following that the cross
– curricular approach is used in my ideal classroom. For instancee:  Students
learn about the respect, tolerance and peace in the lessons. This lesson is not
necessary to be a value lesson, it can be a history or a geography lesson, but
the values have to be drawn up during the lesson. In geography lesson we can
talk about different countries and cultures emphasizing the differentiation of
customs and traditions. And we can mention that each country has to be
respected not depending on traditions or customs. Or during history lesson we
can teach the learners to compare the ancient times when people had a lot of
conflicts with modern time when they live in peace. By the means of applying
values in the learning process children become more independent in getting
knowledge at school. As Martin Johnson, states “By providing a curriculum
based on real purpose and real audiences we have a chance of engaging children
in compelling experiences that offer a chance for them to understand
processes” (Johnson, M. Subject to Change: New Thinking on the Curriculum,
2007:6).

It is not deniable that primary students
also take an important part in a larger community and considering the reality
that they discover themselves for the first time, they should be given more
attention. Each student is unique with his / her strengths and weaknesses and they
do not have the equal responsibility in gaining skills or knowledge from
learning.  A real teacher sees the
possibility in all children. The main aim of teachers in my ideal school is to
guide and support his/her students in each challenge that happens during
learning journey.

 

Conclusion

Therefore, creating a
positive environment in an ideal classroom will support children’s learning.
Taking into account all the mentioned features it can be said that without
positivity a student’s capability to learn is lessened. Throughout my
assignment I have also become fully aware of that Positive Education plays a
vital role in decreasing anxiety and depression and it gives opportunities not
only to the learners but also to the teachers to increase their achievement.  Moreover, I have added some crucial
factors which help to create an ideal classroom within an ideal school.
Nowadays, education is the most vital feature of our society and I consider
that if we want to apply this importance we have to apply positivity on all
aspects of our teaching process.

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