We Still Love John

October 13, 2009

Yi Ling’s reflections

Filed under: #5: review and evaluation — welovejohn @ 5:08 pm

– What are the three key things you have learnt …? – What did you learn about yourself + your peers? – What did you learn about your problem-solving approaches? – How do you apply it to another situation?

My biggest takeaway is knowing that positive psychology can be taught! It is also immensely gratifying to learn that happiness is scientifically proven to be good for health, as it is the most natural – and free – cure for many of our common woes. Because happiness is not a fluffy myth and can be consciously practised as a way of life, our education system should rethink and renovate its psychologically debilitating practices: students like John must be given a nurturing environment that should ideally heal him instead of obliquely blighting him further with criticisms or discouraging messages that contribute greatly to his low self-worth. More significantly, I have learnt that positive psychology is not mutually exclusive to real life problems. In other words, it is perfectly normal for positive and negative thinking to coexist, but the crux lies in what strategy we use to cope: do we tap into our strengths and virtues and take positive action to change our fate, or immediately castigate ourselves and become passive when we encounter problems? Seligman’s ‘learned optimism’ and ‘balanced psychology’ are thus very crucial learning points for me, for it reinscribes positive existentialist action in the individual by focussing on his strengths for self-help and self-regulation. As the saying goes, change must start from within. I deeply appreciate how positive psychology can give agency back to John while simultaneously recognising the difficulties in his life.

Through the PBL process, I learnt that it is helpful for us to have similar goals and dispositions because these greatly aid us in working effectively and harmoniously as a group. It is also very useful to capitalise on one other’s strengths in the division of labour, for e.g. the psychology majors in our group were important guides and signposts in determining the theoretical and practical coherence of the overall flow and direction of our project. On a personal level, I find that my learning process is not very painful because I enjoy my chosen research on positive psychology: I find it relevant to my life and my students’ lives in our highly hectic and demanding country where unhappy people are the norm.

My problem-solving approaches are shaped by my prior knowledge, experiences and habits of research: Google and fine-streaming. I tend to learn best from incidental learning moments, which presented itself in a few succinct quotations of positive psychology in my brother’s philosophy textbook; I tend to critically think and extrapolate from such moments, albeit in a group context, it might seem a little too haphazard. I have thus learnt to make stronger connections between my research area and my group members’ areas, and to always understand the problem with the big picture in mind so as to enable a more cogent overall flow.

This can be effectively applied to another situation by always streamlining and reorienting the overall focus onto the central protagonist of the problem, and not on the problem-solver’s pre-existing schema. It seems to be the easy way out, but especially in a group setting where professionalism and human destinies are at stake, organisation, coherence and focus are very important factors in any application of a problem.

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