Professor Martin Seligman, American psychologist and founder of positive psychology, has a vision that echoes resoundingly with the educational aspirations of The D. H. Chen Foundation:
“The school of children has, for more than a century, paved the boulevard toward adult work. I am all for success, literacy, perseverance, and discipline, but I want you to imagine that schools could, without compromising either, teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement.” (Flourish, 2011)
Drawing on positive psychology, Professor Seligman developed a well-being theory, the cornerstone of positive education, that aims to help individuals discover their character strengths and enhance their wellbeing to promote learning, a vital element for a solid foundation of flourishing lives.
Studies have shown that cultivating positive values and character strengths at an early stage of childhood contribute to the youths’ intellectual and social development, which allow them to be better in academic performance and overcoming challenges, as well as to improve health behaviors and maintain healthy mind and bodies. These effects are long term as they will continue well into participants’ adulthood.
With many schools in Hong Kong face immense academic pressure that allow very little space and time to implement positive education, the Foundation saw an increasing demand in such area for Hong Kong young generation. Therefore, the Foundation joined hands with St. James’ Settlement (“SJS”) to launch SOWGOOD! Positive Education Centre (“SOWGOOD!”) in 2018.
Locating at SJS’s headquarters in Wan Chai, the 6,200-square feet SOWGOOD! is the first ever experiential gallery to provide an enabling learning environment for children to enhance their positive traits and emotions to face future challenges. It promotes positive education through a wide range of learning programs including experiential learning experiences like role-play and creative arts for kindergarten and primary school students, training workshops for teachers and parents, as well as public talks for the community. All are designed with the expert advice from the Research Center for Positive Social Science of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, which enable a theory-based and evidence-based study on the effect of positive education intervention on young generation.
With the implementation of SOWGOOD! program, the Foundation hopes to promote young children’s social and mental wellbeing, develop young children’s positive values and character strengths including positive emotions, thankfulness, optimism, perseverance, care, focus, observation, connecting power, creativity and resilience. At the same time, SOWGOOD! can act as a supporting platform for teachers and parents to nurture knowledge, skills and attitudes in building children’s characters strengths, and as a collaborative platform for like-minded parties from different sectors, such as the Education Bureau and other governmental departments, to steer character education in terms of awareness building, knowledge transfer and best practice sharing.
Read more about SOWGOOD! here.
St. James’ Settlement is thankful to The D. H. Chen Foundation for the trust and partnership to realize SOWGOOD! Positive Education Centre in September 2018. As the first of its kind, SOWGOOD! provides a unique learning environment for children to take part in challenging experiential games so as to enhance their positive traits in facing life challenges. It is also a collaborative platform on positive education where families, schools, NGOs, corporations and Government can work together to promote comprehensive positive character education in Hong Kong.
We look forward to continuing our collaboration with different stakeholders, in nurturing our children’s growth in their positive character strengths.
St. James’ Settlement