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The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, Volume 25, Issue 3, 2016, pp. 463-471

Making Students Happy with Wellbeing-Oriented Education: Case Study of a Secondary School in China

Zhang Y. * 1
Abstract :

Positive education is being increasingly applied to improve students’ wellbeing in schools. The main positive education strategies adopted by schools consist of teaching wellbeing skills directly to students to increase their resilience, positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. These wellbeing skills can be either added to or integrated into the existing curricula of schools. While school leaders and teachers have a key role to play as change agents in institutionalizing positive education and developing ‘happy’ schools, little research exists in the literature on leadership practices in happy schools. The current article attempts to fill this knowledge gap by reporting a qualitative case study of leadership practices for improving students’ wellbeing. The case study was set in a junior secondary school in Guangzhou, China, where the wellbeing of secondary school students is generally low as a result of academic pressure. Research methods included interviews with school leaders and teachers, observation of lessons, and document analysis. The said school implemented an alternative approach underpinned by positive expectation of student development; that is, it embraced a student-centered approach in curriculum adaptation, pedagogical design, staff development and resource management. This approach aimed to relieve the academic pressure on students and to better support their learning and development. Findings show that, after the school had adopted wellbeing-oriented education for 3 years, student learning and wellbeing were greatly improved. This study expands the idea of positive education practices beyond the direct teaching of wellbeing skills and enriches our understanding of positive education in China. © 2016, De La Salle University.

Keywords : Happy schools,Positive education,School leadership,Secondary schools in China,Students’ wellbeing
Subject Area : Education

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