“How are you?” A common enough question which may be put to you several times a day but one which we usually only answer with a polite response. However, this question of how we are has become more central within education with the greater emphasis now being placed on well being with schools.
In education, mirroring the development of ideas more generally, the word “well being” has been adopted in recent years to indicate the importance of helping young people to adopt a positive attitude to life. As educators we hope to create young people who flourish and we are challenged by modern society, with its strains and stresses, to find ways to put this desire into practice.
I was challenged to think again of well being after a recent conversation with someone in New Zealand. He introduced me to how central the concept of haoura is within their education system and how it embodies a key Maori view of the whole person.
Haoura covers the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs that everyone has. Māori believe that each of these four concepts supports the others. A popular way to describe the four concepts of hauora is to liken them to the four walls of a house or building. Each wall represents a different concept, and are all needed for strength and symmetry of the house. I found it very refreshing to be offered this simple visual image to work with, which draws attention to these four aspects of life in order to flourish.
This conversation took me back to the lively presentation made by Dr Anthony Seldon at our Foundation Day last September, in which he spoke forcefully about the importance of developing well being within schools and on an individual level. In his presentation he shared some of his ideas outlined in his book, “Beyond Happiness” in which he offers an original eight-step approach on how to make our lives far more meaningful and rewarding.
Over the coming months we are keen to explore ways that we can bring a clearer programme of well being into life at Mill Hill. I was grateful for the fresh vision offered to me from New Zealand to help me to see the central importance of moving forward with this initiative.