There’s a lot of pressure on young adults to “discover their passions” and “live lives of purpose.” Why? Because we want people to be happy and whole, which are states of being that have to be cultivated. Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living (Peterson, 2008), so understanding the traits and actions that lead to wellbeing and fulfillment are the focus of this class. Students collaboratively explore the building blocks of thriving, including research into gratitude, strengths theory, and the role played by positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement (PERMA) in the development of lasting wellbeing. Throughout the first term, students engage in a series of positive activity interventions designed to give them a sense of how the theories can be applied to their own lives, and at the end of their study students create a podcast explaining how they have come to define and explain happiness for themselves.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
"I'm proud to say that I have established a pathway to improve my overall wellbeing and happiness. I learned about the "traps," what gets in my way when I pursue happiness and how to avoid them. Specifically, I now understand that happiness is composed of elements beyond materialistic values, such as wealth, money, or social status - things that I associated with being happy before taking this course. I'm particularly intrigued by the subjects of gratitude and meaning of life ... I couldn't emphasize enough how the weekly Gratitude Project has changed my perspective. I learned to seek happiness in the service of others, to appreciate every good thing that happens to me, regardless how small or big they are. "
WHAT STUDENTS DO
Learning is an active process at One Schoolhouse. Students design, create and apply. And, they engage with classmates and connect with their teachers through discussions, video conferences, and projects. Specifically, in this class students will:
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SECOND SEMESTER?
Students wishing to pursue a positive psychology project may enroll in the course for the full year. For students continuing into Semester II, the course shifts into personalized, project-based work, where students engage in deep, sustained inquiry; authentic and iterative research; critical analysis; and rigorous reflection, revision, and assessment as they journey through a self-designed, long-term activism, design, or research project on the topic of their choosing. Guided by a One Schoolhouse teacher, students pursue individual study/self-assessment or collaborative seminar/peer-review. Pathway options from which students choose include:
Upon completion of their inquiry-driven project, students will have gained academic maturity and expanded their ability to engage in a diverse and changing world. They will be able to draw and defend conclusions from theoretical underpinnings, contextual background, and mathematical analysis or source evaluation. Finally, they will have created and tested something useful of their own design or will be able to defend a position based on their own research.
MEET A TEACHER FOR THIS COURSE
Examples of signature activities and projects for this course are:
This course is approved by the NCAA.
One Schoolhouse is fully accredited with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges through December 1, 2025; we are an approved online publisher for the University of California.
Social Sciences Teacher
AB Middlebury College
MEd Boston University
MA Vermont College