Positive Education

What Is Positive Education?

Positive education is the combination of traditional education principles with the study of happiness and wellbeing, using Martin Seligman‘s PERMA model and the Values in Action (VIA) classification.

Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, has incorporated positive psychology into education models as a way to decrease depression in younger people and enhance their wellbeing and happiness. By using his PERMA model (or its extension, the PERMAH framework) in schools, educators and practitioners aim to promote positive mental health among students and teachers.

The PERMA and PERMAH Frameworks

PERMA encompasses five main elements that Seligman premised as critical for long-term wellbeing:

  1. Positive Emotions: Feeling positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, interest, and hope;
  2. Engagement: Being fully absorbed in activities that use your skills but still challenge you;
  3. (Positive) Relationships: Having positive relationships;
  4. Meaning: Belonging to and serving something you believe is bigger than yourself;
  5. Accomplishment: Pursuing success, winning achievement, and mastery.

The PERMAH framework adds Health onto this, covering aspects such as sleep, exercise, and diet as part of a robust positive education program (Norrish & Seligman, 2015).