I was talking with a friend recently about her concerns for her teenage son regarding setting goals, planning for his future, and feeling more confident about school. She expressed wishing schools had some sort of “life skills” program.
I agreed with her, and had actually thought about this previously after looking into Positive Youth Development (PYD), which on a side note, is something I’ll be writing a post on soon.
In short, PYD provides a framework to support youth development by focusing on strengths and building assets, with the goal that youth will grow up to be contributing adults.
A major part of this framework includes public institutions, such as schools and other community centers, working in unison with the parents and youth toward this mutual goal.
What do you think? Should schools have some responsibility to help youth develop emotionally as well as academically?
I believe schools can really be an empowering institution that promotes well-being and develops psychosocial strengths, in addition to academic learning.
There are many positive psychology principles that can be incorporated into the school setting to enhance emotional and social development along with the expected academic performance.
Research has shown that the level of school satisfaction and subjective well-being relates to academic performance and behavioral outcomes.
Enhancing school satisfaction and subjective well-being can provide protective factors against behavior problems, and students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to learn if they feel confident and positive about the school environment.
As well, incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) has now been shown to improve behavior and academic performance.
School satisfaction is based on how positively the student views their school experience as a whole. There are clearly many factors that come into play here.
So how can we start to improve school satisfaction?
Characteristics to improve school satisfaction:
Self-esteem relates positively with school satisfaction. If kids feel good about themselves it provides more satisfaction and confidence, and creates less of a desire for students to act out to gain negative attention. Schools can help students improve self-esteem through implementing SEL programs to teach about social skills and emotion management.
Academic self-efficacy is a sure factor for school success. If students feel confident in their academic abilities they are more likely to stay engaged and enjoy school. Standford University Professor Carol Dweck’s research clearly shows that teaching kids about a growth mindset provides more resilience and confidence with learning. Students who believe they can be successful are willing to work harder and make more positive judgments about themselves and school work.
Supportive teacher and peer relationships are a major factor in student satisfaction. This relates to helping students feel safe and comfortable with other students, as well having teachers who are available and promote a positive attitude. Helping school officials and teachers understand how much their roles impact student satisfaction is crucial.
Having a school culture that works to actively engage students and promotes student strengths will be more effective than one that focuses on problematic behavior and purely academic scores.
This of course is easier said than done, but for schools to thrive and not fall behind as we progress into a new stage of education and learning, there will be a greater need for public and community institutions to partner up in order to help future leaders develop in a positive and socially conscious manner.
Photo credit: madaboutasia