Education Talks | Well-being and its application to schools

When I think of well-being in school, I am thinking of something that is important
for everybody in and around the school. So it is obviously for the children
who are the pupils in the schools but it is also very important
that we understand it as the well-being of all of the teaching staff, of the administrative
and management staff in the school. Because you can’t actually support
the well-being of one group without ensuring that you are supporting
the well-being of all the groups. What is ‘well-being’, and
how does the concept apply to schools? When I talk about well-being, I am using
the working definition of Universal Education Foundation which is that everybody
can realise their development through physical, mental,
emotional, social and spiritual aspects in relationship to themselves, to other people,
the people around them and to the broader society. How is agency important
as an aspect of well-being? During the 2000s, some very interesting
research was carried out in Australia by a group of researchers who talked
to 8 to 15-year old children, quite large numbers, and found out from them
what well-being meant to them and it comes out that the dimensions
that are the most important are: agency, sense of self,
security and safety. Under agency we are usually
referring to the fact that children can have a say
in their own lives, that they can give their opinions,
they can make decisions and this goes back to
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child where there are a number of articles supporting children’s right
to participation, their right to self-expression. In the school context can be
that the teacher is creating space for children to be able
to make choices in the classroom, to be able to work together
in groups as a form of peer learning, to be able to make some decisions
about what the group is going to be doing. All of those are very important. Sense of self and belonging
as a part of well-being We need to be taking care that
children have the opportunity for their physical, mental, social,
emotional, spiritual development – not in little pieces
that are cut up – but in a holistic process that
allows a very well-rounded development. And we do know from recent research and
particularly recent research in brain science that emotions are an important part of
taking new knowledge and making it your own. Is developing well-being
the responsibility of school staff? It is also the school
as an institution which is developing
its collective and overall competence and it is also
at the different levels of governance which in some countries
will be municipal level, in other countries will be
regional or national level.

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