An important, yet often ignored factor of the learning experience, is school related well-being. (Bradshaw, Keung, Rees, & Goswami, 2011). This school-related well-being is a subset of the general framework of human well-being which, conceptualized by White (2010), emphasizes three components: “the material, the relational, and the subjective” (p. 161). Considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it seems obvious that students’ well-being needs must be met before higher-order thinking can occur.
Students’ perception creates the emotional learning environment of the classroom or the entire school. Please note, though, that I am not talking about entertaining students. My intention is to describe a learning environment where students cooperate and are accountable for their own learning. In Finland one measurement for successful education is “kouluviihtyvyys”, which approximately translates to school enjoyment, or school satisfaction, but actually has some deeper connotations of a place where one feels safe and welcome. School satisfaction is seen to be built of several components where school conditions create one part, social relationships another part and means for self-fulfillment in school the third crucial part – following the categories of having, loving, being by Erik Allardt. These are quite similar to material, relational and subjective.
Classroom management and curricular choices belong to having (the material, school conditions), in addition to the buildings and equipment, and often are the most emphasized component in student success. However, no matter how great the learning conditions are, the two other components of well-being must be present to complete the picture of successful learning experiences.
Cooperation falls into social relationships/loving – part of school enjoyment, and it covers school climate, teacher-student relationships and all interactions – also those with students’ homes and family members. Cooperation increases students’ success in all levels starting from informal peer tutoring among classmates, covering anything and everything that happens during a school day, but also reaching to professional collaboration between education professionals. Loving is a strong word for me to use about social relationships at school, but I do see how well it fits here.
Being/the means of self-fulfillment cover many important areas: value of work (no busywork!), creativity (students and teachers are so much more than parts in a machine), encouragement (feedback about learning process), and having opportunities to practice making good choices. Knowing how I learn is essential for becoming a good learner, and this is why metacognitive tools should be an essential part of each and every teacher’s toolbox. This is also why I am so sceptical about standards – when learning is an individual process, how could it be measured with standardized testing?
The reality of testing is to provide information to the stakeholders (which is the basic idea in summative evaluations). To increase school well-being we should use lots of informal and formative assessments to support students' learning process.
Having, loving and being were in my mind when I creatd the 3C Framework:
Cooperation guides the classroom management decision and help students engage in their own learning process.
Constructive tools focus on supporting students' learning process to make learning meaningful and increase motivation to learn.
3C framework also emphasizes using students' self-assessment in order to build feedback loops that support deeper learning. The underlying principle is to empower students to become independent life-long learners.
Bradshaw, J., Keung, A., Rees, G., & Goswami, H. (2011). Children's subjective well-being: International comparative perspectives. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(4), 548-556.