Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Positive Schooling: Challenges Seen and Met, as Perceived by the Principals, Administrators and Teachers in Schools of Jaipur

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Positive Schooling: Challenges Seen and Met, as Perceived by the Principals, Administrators and Teachers in Schools of Jaipur

Article excerpt

Understanding the factors that encourage young people to become active agents in their own learning is critical. Positive psychology is one lens that can be used to investigate the factors that facilitate a student's sense of agency and active school engagement. There is much agreement that positive youth development takes place in families, peer groups, and out-home contexts, such as schools. Nevertheless, investigations of factors that contribute to optimal school experiences in youth have traditionally lagged behind scholarship examining the other two contexts (Furlong et al., 2014).

"Positive psychology" has gained prominence over the last 15 years (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Sheldon & King, 2001) a general definition, positive psychology "is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and all stops in between... and takes seriously those things in life that make life most worth living" (Peterson, 2006) Efforts have been made over the past 20 years to examine the good life in children for at least two reasons. First, similar to what has been reported in adults, "mental illness" and "mental health" are distinct constructs in youth. For example, among a sample of middle school students, Keyes (2006) reported that a significant number of youth reported low levels of psychological distress but also low psychological well-being. Nonetheless, based on most standardized self-report measures used in schools, which often focus on assessing psychological distress, these students would appear psychologically "healthy" even though their wellbeing reports would indicate otherwise. Second, a study of factors that contribute to optimal functioning has intuitive appeal to many stakeholders most notably to parents. Indeed, the foremost goal of most parents is not to prevent psychopathology but to instil and promote skills and values that contribute to a productive life. Research has shown that numerous psychological, social, and academic benefits are afforded to those individuals who maintain incrementally higher levels of well-being (e.g., Gilman & Huebner, 2006).

Research has shown that from the earliest ages, the quality of school experiences plays a contributory role in key developmental and learning milestones such as motivation (van Grinsven & Tillema, 2006); identity development, health outcomes (Forrest et al., 2013); and overall academic success (Cohen et al., 2009). Further, the quality of experiences during the formative school years dictates, in part, the choices students make as adults. For example, longitudinal studies find that students who report more positive school experiences also report higher levels of mental and physical health as young adults (Wickrama & Vazsonyi, 2011); are less likely to engage in risk behaviors such as alcohol use (Locke & Newcomb, 2004); and report they were better prepared for their future (Lapan, Gysbers, & Sun, 1997).

The increasing emphasis on the schools and the experiences associated takes us to defining school climate. There is not one universally agreed-upon definition of school climate. Practitioners and researchers use a range of terms, such as atmosphere, feelings, tone, setting, or milieu of the school (Freiberg, 1999; Homana, Barber, & Tomey-Purta, 2006). Some writers have focused on the subjective nature of school climate, and others have suggested that it is an "objective" facet of school life. The elements that comprise a school's climate are extensive and complex. School climate is based on patterns of people's experiences of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures (Cohen et al., 2009). Dary and Pickeral (2013) added that school climate reflects the quality and character of what goes on in schools; it is based on students', parents', and school personnel's perceptions of school life along with representation of "norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures". …

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