16 Pages

Teaching for wellbeing

On the importance of creating capabilities in schools
ByMacAllister James

Schools across the globe have long tried and often succeeded in contributing to the wellbeing of children and young persons who attend them. However, the last ten to fifteen years have seen a heightened policy focus on education for wellbeing in the UK and elsewhere (see Chapter 3). As White notes, ‘before the millennium, the term “wellbeing” barely figured in the educational lexicon, a decade later its use is ubiquitous’ (White, 2011, p. 12). In this chapter I will consider some of the reasons why this may be so. I will also discuss how teachers in schools might respond to the recent education for wellbeing agenda. I will first consider the role of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in promoting wellbeing measurement in nations and states. I note how the work of Amartya Sen has influenced the OECD’s mission to measure wellbeing across the globe. After charting three distinctions Sen makes between agency, being well off and being well, I document the views of Nussbaum, who like Sen, advocates the development of wellbeing capabilities. I observe that the OECD mostly appears interested in compiling statistics on wellbeing. This is in contrast to Nussbaum, who is not opposed to wellbeing measurement but nonetheless believes the focus should be placed on creating wellbeing capabilities for all persons.