What is happy learning and positive education?

Following the International Positive Education Network (IPEN) festival in Dallas, Texas, we speak to Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority, about Positive Education, and getting serious about happiness...

Positive Education focuses on bringing the best out of students, teachers, school leaders and parents, believes Dr Abdulla Al Karam.

The Director General of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) was speaking at the Festival of Positive Education in Dallas, Texas in June to present alongside key players from Dubai's education field to an audience of policy-makers and educators from around the world.

Vision sat down with Dr Abdulla to ask him five key questions about the learning trend catching on around the world. 

How would you define Positive Education?

It is an important part of the larger purpose that education serves. The original meaning of ‘education’ – coming from the Latin ‘educare’ – means to ‘bring out from within.’ This approach – where teachers and school leaders focus on bringing the best out of their students, rather than ‘putting in’ – informs how we view education in general, and Positive Education in particular.

What should be done to promote Positive Education in schools?

Engagement with the wider community is crucial for Positive Education to grow. A happy child must be supported by happy teachers at school and parents at home, who live in a happy community. We will continue to work together with our community to ensure that the measure of a good education aligns with that of a good life.


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How does Positive Education translate in Dubai?

Positive Education is increasingly embraced in Dubai. We have taken inspiration from the new federal post of Minister of State for Happiness, and schools in Dubai are trying new ways of bringing more wellbeing into classrooms, such as urban gardening and mindfulness. Dubai’s private education sector is also one of the most diverse in the world – schools offer 16 different curricula to students from 188 different nationalities – and this benefits Positive Education greatly. Our data shows not only that curricula are more enriched through greater understanding across cultures, but students’ and parents’ experience of education is much more positive when a school has greater diversity.

What did the conference in Dallas achieve?

The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about Positive Education trends and practices from around the world. We travelled with a delegation of Dubai-based principals and teachers who then returned to Dubai to share what they have learned with their peers.

What response has Positive Education received from the community?

We’ve received great support from schools, universities, teachers, parents, and students. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy?

The Festival of Positive Education took place in July in Dallas, Texas. See ipen-festival.com for further details