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HKPI Professional Sharing : Positive Education

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A Model for Positive Education (Geelong Grammar School): 2013.10.29

Reflection contributed by Mr. Nicholas Puiu, Principal of HKMA David Li Kwok Po College

A benefit of having a Principal’s Institute is that it enables us to listen to a wide variety of views and experiences, thus broadening our own horizons and perspectives. On Tuesday October 29th,The Hong Kong Principal’s Institute organized a talk, kindly hosted by St Paul’s Co-educational College by the Principal of the very well-known, Geelong Grammar School, Mr. Stephen Meek.

Geelong Grammar is currently pioneering a whole-school approach which exemplifies the concept expressed in Roman times of “mens sana in corpore sano”, that is, a healthy mind in a healthy body. What this involves is the School collaborating with Professor Martin Seligman and his team from the University of Pennsylvania, to create a programme that centers on the power of the ‘positive’ and in developing wellness, resilience, optimism and a love of learning in all of its students.

Part of the reasoning for examining wellness and positivity was that it confronts the reality that many students, whether it be in Hong Kong or Australia, are faced with depression and/or negative social and peer-based influences. As an example, all Year Nine (Form Three) students spend an entire school year at the School’s remote Timbertop Campus, away from their parents and electronic influences such as mobile phones, eating and sleeping together in teams, engaging in lessons, taking part in Community Service, engaging in rigorous physical activity and so on. The concept is that by taking students out of comfortable ‘cocoons’ and by enabling them to understand that they can deal with life’s pressures by using commonsense, positivity and resilience, helping them to develop skills that will aid them for the rest of their lives.

A few schools in Hong Kong are taking their own first steps in examining how they too can provide learning opportunities that rely more on students developing similar resilience at dealing with life’s problems. The Hong Kong Principal’s Institute thanks Mr. Meek for his most informative and thought provoking presentation.