The following is an extract from my recently published manifesto, “Still Trying to Find X”.
It is essential that we create a Virtuous Cycle for all students in our schools.
The Virtuous Cycle relies on having positive relationships at its heart or hub.
Think of your own experience at school. It’s likely your favourite teacher taught one of your favourite subjects. It’s likely you engaged with the subject matter because of the teacher, rather than vice versa.
As well as interpersonal relationships, the relationships between achievement and purpose, the past, present and future, student goals and the relationship between school and the wider world are all crucially important to establishing the Virtuous Cycle.
Froh et al. (2010) found that adolescents who had a sense of engagement reported higher levels of wellbeing.
Andrew Howell (2009) states:
“Students who are flourishing are less likely to adopt an entity view of ability [ie they had “Growth” mindsets], more likely to endorse mastery approach goals, report higher levels of self-control and higher grades.”
Your own experience will tell you: when students achieve and see the wider relevance of their achievement, they engage on an even deeper level.
I believe schools need to pursue the Virtuous Cycle above and beyond all else. In doing so we’ll have students who:
- feel good about themselves
- have a sense of ownership over their education
- feel valued in the school community
- pursue learning for the sake of learning – not grades alone
- are creative thinkers
- are resilient
- are physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually healthy
- are aware of their strengths and how to use them to contribute to society
- aren’t afraid to fail
- are flourishing
You don’t need a doctorate to see that these kids are the kind we would benefit from having in our schools, families and communities:
Yes we get it right for some of our students.
But we need to get it right for all of them.
To do that, we need to think critically and creatively in order to Find X in our own individual schools.
Still Trying to Find X is free to view online. Please share it with your colleagues!
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler