Positive pedagogy

Everyone has strengths. Everyone wants to succeed.

The idea of actively seeing the good is at the core of positive pedagogy. To do this, we must train our eye to notice even the small successes. They are worth celebrating.

The more challenges there are in a child’s or adolescent’s life, the stronger their need for encouragement and positive feedback. The feedback must come from tangible things that can be pointed out. The ability to return to good moments allows you to strengthen the experience of success and remember it.

Experiences of success build up a bag of resources that teaches the child to trust their own skills. They learn know their strengths and believe that success is possible in the future as well. A wise educator provides children with opportunities to succeed.

Concentrate on what is good and works. Teach character strengths.

Help the child to recognise their own strengths by making all the small successes visible.

Teach the child to lean on their strengths and to use them consciously. This will lead to more successes.

The See the Good! products

See the Good! can help you remember

THUMB

Give positive feedback – thumbs up!

INDEX FINGER

Talk about strengths

MIDDLE FINGER

Learn to use the strengths

RING FINGER

Promote solidarity, build your herd

LITTLE FINGER

Set an example – walk the talk

Life skills and character strengths are connected

The Finnish national core curriculum of basic education (OPH 2014) mentions life skills as a central part of education. Life skills have also been described as the skills of growing as a person and a citizen. They are essential skills for coping in life. These life skills don’t form an independent school subject; they should be taught alongside other subjects. The implementation of the teaching varies a lot between different kindergartens and schools.

Character strengths are core factors in human action, and they guide us in and give us the energy to execute daily and long-term activities. Character strengths are basic factors when learning life skills. They are meta-skills through which other skills can be achieved. When teaching character strengths, you’re also teaching life skills and equipping children for the experience of being human and growing up.

The circle below illustrates life skills, and the outer part of the circle includes the character skills connected to each skill block. By teaching these strengths, you can promote learning in the specific block of life skills.

Our experts

Kaisa Vuorinen is originally a special education teacher and a solution-focused supervisor. Her doctoral dissertation, discussing character strengths, will be examined in 2021 at the University of Helsinki. Since 2014, Kaisa has been developing practical material for positive pedagogy in pre-primary and basic education. Kaisa has also been teaching on this subject extensively abroad. 

Lotta Uusitalo is an Adjunct Professor of Special Education and a university lecturer at the University of Helsinki. Her original training was that of a biochemist.  She has twenty years of experience in class teaching, subject teaching, and special education teaching. Since 2006, she has been training teachers both in Finland and abroad. Lotta has earlier researched learning difficulties and later children’s experiences of happiness and strength pedagogy. 

Pasi Kotilainen is a Master of Education and an experienced class teacher who has been teaching all basic education levels during his career spanning more than 15 years. His special competence as a teacher lies in combining information and communications technology with teaching life skills, as well as planning and implementing various projects.

Elina Paatsila is a Master of Arts and has ten years of experience in teaching English and French as foreign languages. Elina is an expert and developer of positive pedagogy, and in the last years, she has trained thousands of teachers and primary educators both in Finland and internationally, for instance as the training manager in the Positive CV project funded by the Finnish National Agency of Education and implemented together with HY+ (the University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education), covering over 80 Finnish municipalities.

We research what we do

Positive research is produced at the University of Helsinki

Nourishing Compassion in Finnish Kindergarten Head Teachers: How Character Strength Training Influences Teachers’ Other-Oriented Behavior

Vuorinen, K., Pessi, A. B., & Uusitalo, L. (2020).  Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-14.

Students’ usage of strengths and general happiness are connected via school-related factors
Vuorinen, K., Hietajärvi, L., & Uusitalo, L. (2020).  Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-13.
A character strength intervention in 11 inclusive Finnish classrooms to promote social participation of students with special educational needs
Vuorinen, K., Erikivi, A., & Uusitalo‐Malmivaara, L. (2019). Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 19(1), 45-57.

Winners of Sitra’s Ratkaisu 100 challenge competition

ratkaisu100black

In 2017, for the anniversary of Finland’s 100 years of independence, SITRA organized the Ratkaisu 100 challenge prize competition aimed at coming up with an idea to bring out hidden skills. Positive Learning’s core team won the split first prize in the competition with the Positive CV innovation. The win brought the team €500,000 in funding and an opportunity to develop a widely available pedagogy highlighting broad competence.

Photo: Rob Örthen