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The Eudemonics of Education

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

This chapter summarizes educationally relevant insights regarding human flourishing from earlier and more recent humanistic and positive psychology, and based on this a systems model of human flourishing, based on motivation for strengths-based, self-regulated balancing and growth processes, generally aimed at pleasurable flourishing, is proposed. Thus the model integrates hedonic an eudemonic components of well-being including physical health, positive emotions, engagement, meaning and social relatedness with the core educational features including curiosity, the urge to create, learning, creativity and achievement – in effect implying self-realization/self-actualization, personal expressiveness and predicting self-awareness, self-acceptance, integrity, self-efficacy, grit, personal excellence, resilience, and other constructs used to describe eudemonic experiences and activity. Thus assuming that the systems model is congruent with the current (positive) psychological evidence on human flourishing, it is further argued that findings from influential meta-studies on educational effectiveness (Hattie J, Yates GCR, Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge, London, 2014), are fully congruent with the model, and ideas for application in educational settings and beyond are offered. Concluding the chapter are ethical considerations regarding structures, human freedom, equality, dignity, fairness, and the very right to thrive – all inherently relevant for educators.

Keywords

  • Well-being
  • Flourishing
  • Self-regulation
  • Strengths
  • Balance
  • Growth
  • Learning
  • Creativity

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Model 30.1
Model 30.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Obviously, this is not the place for a detailed investigation of the philosophy of time, but the implications of this as regards an educational system being run by digital time-frames for over two centuries should be fairly clear even so. Almost none of what makes life worth living is about getting it over with and in the vernacular this boldly means that very little quality of life is to be expected by trying to get from A to B as quickly as possible.

  2. 2.

    The precise ratio is still contested but that a ratio exists is rather consensual, as negative events almost invariably affect us more than positive ones (Baumeister et al., 2001; Rozin & Royzman, 2001).

  3. 3.

    See: www.strengthsfinder.com, www.viacharacter.org, www.cappeu.com

  4. 4.

    See: www.ggs.vic.edu.au; www.stpeters.sa.edu.au; www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/prpsum.htm

  5. 5.

    To be noted, of course, every person is sensing some level and kind of well-being at any time awake and will be learning and acting one way or the other at any particular moment, so it may be argued that it is difficult, maybe at times even impossible, to determine, whether one aspect of a mood (e.g. curiosity), or and action (e.g. reading), comes before the other. But keeping that in mind, for analytical purposes, it may still make sense to outline, how indeed mental states predict one another, how certain acts predict certain states, and how states may predict certain actions. Indeed, without this assumption, we probably would not have psychological science at all.

    Also, to be noted, well-being in all forms are intrinsically motivated, which means that a completely functioning system will be highly, psychologically sustainable, unless overdone as when, for instance, purpose becomes so overwhelming as to become obsessive, or some type of pleasure becomes to dominating as to be addictive and thereby undermining self-determination.

  6. 6.

    In other texts, I have used the systems theoretical term of “dynamic order” to describe general aspects of well-being on different levels (Knoop, 2013). See also Csikszentmihalyi and Knoop (2008).

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Knoop, H.H. (2016). The Eudemonics of Education. In: Vittersø, J. (eds) Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_30

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