Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The challenge of changing negative practices in Indonesian schools

I received a comment on my last post The Development of a Human Being and thought the question so good that it was worth writing a post on.

Ms. Neno an English teacher from Bali, Indonesia wrote:

Hi Mr Hugh. Thanks for writing this. :-)

Interesting. Though I should say that after reading it I exhaled a quite deep sigh. I am not trying to be pessimistic to my own country (considering you are writing about positive psychology), but I guess I need your opinion on this: what do you think would be the best way to implement "positive education program" when the fact is... "negative" practices are still seen anywhere in schools and educational institutions in Indonesia? This should be a huge challenge.

Ms Neno

In reply to Ms. Neno I write:

Hi Ms. Neno,

I'm sorry to hear about you're deep sigh, I obviously need to write more on the application of Positive Psychology so that you are instead, gasping for breath in excitement. The fact of the matter is most formal education around the world has been entrenched in "negative" practices perhaps since the very inception of the model our formal education is based on (something built to meet the needs of the industrialization era).

Only now in the last decade or so, thanks to the development in neuroscience are we really starting to understand, how the brain works. Positive Education is something new everywhere and it covers many things which I believe will be very useful and welcome in schools and institutions in Indonesia.

One key concept in Positive Psychology is "to flourish". Ask any one of your colleagues if they would like to flourish in all aspects of their life and they will no doubt say something to the tune of "yes, of course". Ask them how to flourish and they probably won't have a model to work from (unless of course, they already are flourishing). What Positive Education gives us is that model. If we can get more teachers experience Positive Psychology first hand and the difference it makes to their own thinking, habits and thus life, we'll have much less to deal with regarding a paradigm shift from "negative practices" to "positive practices".

What they do at Geelong Grammar School is to provide  intensive training where the first week or so is focusing on the process of experiencing positive psychology first hand. I was told that of that first week at least 3-4 days are needed for people to start opening up and going deeper into the experience. Many teachers may leave the training still having doubts even though they understand the model, this is where continual time and patience is needed from the trainers throughout the school year. If an institution was prepared to provide the initial training and then the ongoing support I see no reason why the institution's culture could not change and that a Positive Education program wouldn't be a success.

Thankfully many schools like Geelong Grammar School have done the hard yards in ingraining Positive Psychology into their culture and are happy to share their experiences in their journey and what method of development they have found works best.

I plan to provide lots of links to resources on Positive Psychology and Positive Education here on my blog in the coming months, and will hopefully be able to become more active in spreading Positive Education in Indonesia upon my return. I hope you (Ms. Neno) and anybody else reading this can assist and support the development of Positive Psychology in Indonesia.

Kindest regards,

Hugh Elliott

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