You may be familiar with the concept of Positive Psychology--a two-decade-old part of psychology that studies the positive side of the human experience through hope, resilience, mindfulness, relationships, agency and future mindedness. All of this applies to education in very useful ways. Positive Education incorporates aspects of social-emotional learning, but it goes mufh further. This week, we're joined for our first half-hour by Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham since 2015, one of Britain’s leading contemporary historians, educationalists, commentators and political authors; and for the second hour by Laurie Santos, a psychology professor whose big project at Yale University is to positively influence the culture of the institution by teaching happiness and well-being.
Psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos is an expert on human cognition, its origins, and the evolutionary biases that influence our all-too imperfect life choices. She is also knowledgeable about how behavioral change through positive psychology can lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Currently. the big project of Dr. Santos is to positively influence the culture of Yale University by teaching happiness and well-being. She created a course so meaningful that it became the most popular class taken at Yale in over 316 years. In her course, "Psychology and the Good Life," Santos teaches her 1200 students about behavioral change through positive psychology. Dr. Santos wants her students to be more grateful, procrastinate less, and increase social connections. She believes that those positive habits will decrease mental health issues on campus and create happier and more motivated students. The popularity of the class has prompted Yale to create a free online course. Dr. Santos is the host of the podcast, "The Happiness Lab." From her research, Santos speaks to how we are biologically programmed to be motivated by sex, to be deeply influenced by other people — and to repeat our mistakes. And while Santos often uses subjects from the animal kingdom to help explain our sometimes-illogical behaviors, she also provides advice on how to engage our uniquely human faculties to counteract evolution, choose more wisely, and live happier lives.