Positivity Project at Weatherstone Elementary
In spring 2018, Weatherstone ES started implementing The Positivity Project as a way to support students in their social-emotional learning and growth. We believe that #OtherPeopleMatter and #OtherExplorersMatter and strive to support students in strengthening relationships and pro-social skills so that they can be successful, happy, collaborative, creative, critical-thinkers and problem-solvers.
The research is clear. Our ability to build strong relationships is under assault.
Narcissism and Empathy
Between the early 1980s and late 2000s, narcissism in college freshmen increased by 30% and empathy decreased by 40%, according to separate studies from San Diego State University and the University of Michigan.
Achievement vs Caring
A 2014 study from the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked middle and high school students to rank what was most important to them: achieving at a high level, happiness (feeling good most of the time), or caring for others. Almost 80% of students picked high achievement or happiness. Revealingly, students were 3x more likely to agree than disagree with this statement: “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in school than if I’m a caring member of my community and school.” And, only 15% of students saw “promoting caring in students” as their teachers’ top priority.
Between 1985 and 2004, Americans’ number of close friends or people that they could “discuss important matters with” dropped from 2.94 to 2.08. People who said they had no one to discuss important matters with more than doubled, to nearly 25 percent.
Why are relationships so important?
Strong relationships are the cornerstone of health, happiness, and resilience…and jobs of the future.
Heath & Happiness
Harvard University has a nearly 80-year ongoing study that followed 724 men, from two different socioeconomic cohorts, across their lifespans to track health and well-being. The director, Dr. Robert Waldinger, summarized their findings: “The lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Harvard University Study on Adult Development
ResilenceThe National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (NSCDC) at Harvard University had a simple question: Why do some children do well and show resilience, despite exposure to stressful circumstances and hardship? Their answer: “Resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism…The single most common finding is that children who end up doing well have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
Researchers at Oxford University estimate that 47% of U.S. jobs are at “high risk” for being automated within the next 10-20 years. Research out of MIT reinforces these findings, forecasting that technology’s impact on employment “will only accelerate.” The MIT researchers predict the following skills will be in the highest demand as we move into the future: persuasion, negotiation, and group dynamics; framing and solving open-ended problems; applied math and statistics; sound writing; and human interaction and nurturing.
Only by consistently teaching our youth about the character strengths that everyone possesses, will they see the people based on the content of their character.
This ability will enhance our student's self-awareness and self-confidence, understanding and appreciation of others, and interpersonal relationships – which will positively influence our youth (individually and collectively) across their lifespans.
The Positivity Project Model