As educators, we are faced with the challenging question of how to prepare young people for an uncertain future of accelerated change, intensified global competition, and turbulent political waves. In this context, we realize that we need a whole person education that cultivates the mind, the heart, the hand, and social involvement.
Aristotle has said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” There is ample evidence that psychopaths can be intelligent and well-educated but without empathy and conscience. Science has also confirmed that success and money do not bring happiness if our lives are without meaning and virtue.
Thus, a meaning-centered positive education teaches students that a good life consists of meaning, virtue, and mature happiness, which come from the deep satisfaction of making a unique contribution to humanity and learning how to become a fully-functioning person.
At present, positive psychology (PP) and positive education (PE) emphasize the science of well-being and character strengths. A meaning-centered positive education (PE 2.0) similarly acknowledges the importance of well-being and character, but is also aware of the limitations of empirical science and the need to incorporate wisdom from ancient sages and humanistic-existential psychology.
In other words, PE 2.0 is concerned with such existential questions as: What is the purpose of human existence? What does it mean to be a decent human being? What is the meaning of suffering? How can one develop grit and resilience? How can one find happiness amid suffering?
PE 2.0 explores the new frontiers of PP and PE. For example, PP 2.0 introduces mature happiness as a new construct of well-being; this construct seems most appropriate for people living in collectivist societies or difficult circumstances. Mature happiness is characterized by a sense of acceptance, inner serenity, harmony, contentment, gratitude, feeling at home in one’s element, and being at peace with self, others, and the world.
As well, PP 2.0 proposes a four-factor theory of true grit, which consists of (1) courage to do the right thing despite risks and dangers; (2) endurance of hardships, hard work, and suffering; (3) faith in the worth and value of one’s life goal or mission; and (4) perseverance until the task is complete.
Wong, P. T. P. (2017, October 11). Meaning-centered positive education. Invited talk presented at Fo Guang University, Yilan, Taiwan.
Wong, P. T. P. (2017, October 20). Meaning-centered positive education. Keynote presented at the National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.