The New Zealand conference follows on from the World Governance Summit which is promoting Positive Education. The World Governance Summit`s report features Professor Martin Seligman, the guru on positive psychology who is author of Authentic Happiness and who was the keynote speaker at a conference in Glasgow (2003) `Towards a Confident Scotland.`
Positive psychology, from the Centre of Well-being and Confidence in Glasgow, was criticised by Carol Craig some time after :
"Positive psychology was originally a breath of fresh air – a welcome attempt to round out psychology and make its tools and practices more helpful to those seeking respite from mental health problems as well as those interested in improving mental well-being. "
"But in recent years positive psychology has become increasingly grandiose – convinced of its unique ability to solve the problems of the modern world by boosting the subjective well-being not only of those in well-heeled, democratic countries but also developing countries such as China and India."In becoming so grandiose, she believes, positive psychology forgets the fact that its toolkit is extremely limited and it also ignores the structural elements that restrict individual and community well-being.
In other words, there is no recognition that politics, economics and government policies are responsible for the real life constraints that impinge on human flourishing.
Why is this important?
Can I suggest that we look at the Scottish government`s Named Person policy and their well-being indicators? A focus on well-being that is supposed to be there to prevent problems escalating some time in the future is ignoring the same factors that the positive psychology movement is doing - politics, economics and government policies.
Can I also suggest that it is grandiose to think that the Scottish government/world government will solve the problems of the modern world by tweaking a few procedures in the nursery?