Towards the end of 2017 I attended a brilliant conference organized by IPEN (International Positive Education Network). IPEN is an organization that aims to bring together teachers, parents, academics, students, schools, colleges, universities, charities, companies and governments to promote positive education. Their goal is to support collaboration, change education practice and reform government policy. The focus for the conference was ‘Wellbeing in Education’ and included speakers such as Sir Anthony Sheldon and Nicky Morgan (MP). Mental Health advocate and celebrity, Ruby Wax, was also there and guided us through a calming mindfulness practice. What I really took away from the conference was the importance of promoting our individual strengths. Supporting students on their educational journey should also focus on the development of character strengths and well-being, both are intrinsically valuable and contribute to a variety of positive life outcomes.
IPEN and Psychologists working in the area of Dyslexia are basing their work upon the fairly recent ‘Positive Psychology’ approach. Martin Seligman (1998) founded this movement and suggests that a focus on strengths can lead to new ways of thinking and insights. Upon diagnosis of an SpLD such as Dyslexia, an individual is all too aware of what they ‘can’t do’. Negative aspects of their learning difference can be highlighted and focused on. Positive Psychology seeks to challenge that negativity bias.
Professor Rod Nicholson (University of Sheffield) has called for a change in how we view Dyslexia and magnifies the strengths associated with Dyslexia. Dyslexic people are known to have strengths in visualization and creativity, as well as social strengths such as empathy, resilience and flexible coping. An interview with Professor Rod Nicholson with The Psychologist magazine discusses his strengths based approach to Dyslexia.
You can read the online interview here
IPEN also have a great resource library with more information for building character strengths and promoting wellbeing in education. More information can be found here
Finally, here is a list of more character strengths for people with Dyslexia. As educators, let’s keep being positive about Dyslexia!
- Often highly creative
- Can easily grasp new concepts
- See patterns and similarities that others don’t see
- Excellent at problem solving
- Excellent comprehension skills
- Strong reasoning skills
- Understanding of abstract ideas
- Inclination to think outside the box
The Learning Support Centre: Empowering you to fulfil your potential.