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Mathew White

Associate Professor, Deputy Head School of Education, The University of Adelaide

Mathew A. White PhD is Deputy Head of the School of Education and an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He is also a Principal Honorary Fellow in Melbourne Graduate School of Education and an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Mathew is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association’s Education Division. His research focuses on character education, leading change, positive education, and strategic planning in education and wellbeing education. Mathew has co-edited four books including Critical Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Leadership: Enhancing Educational Outcomes (Springer, forthcoming 2020), Future Directions in Wellbeing: Education, Organisations, and Policy (Springer, 2017), Evidence-Based Approaches in Positive Education Implementing a Strategic Framework for Well-being in Schools (Springer, 2015), and Theology Encountering Positive Psychology (Wipf & Stock, 2017). In 2020 he was given the Distinguished Contribution to Research in Educational Leadership Award by the South Australian Branch of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL-SA). Before his appointment to the University of Adelaide in 2018, Mathew held senior leadership positions in schools and has 20 years of teaching experience. His next book edited with Professor Faye McCallum Wellbeing and Resilience Education: Covid-19 And Its Impact on Education Systems will be published by Routledge (2021).  

>Masterclass: Crisis or Catalyst? Examining COVID-19’s Implications for Positive Education

Is COVID-19 the defining education crisis or catalyst of our time? Over the past 20 years, international research in wellbeing and resilience education has helped teachers to create positive learning environments in schools with evidence-based strategies. However, the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education in extraordinary ways and may be the most significant disruption to education in 100 years. The pace of the pandemic and the severity of confusion and uncertainty about the impact on schools, schooling and education raise vital questions. There is a shortage of research investigating the impact of COVID-19 on schools and schooling. In this presentation, I examine the immediate impact of the pandemic on education, adopting an ecological framework. Then I introduce a model to interpret the pandemic’s influence and the response of educational systems drawing on the research from positive psychology. The presentation considers the significant developments in positive education research from the past decade. The presentation examines the development of the field across two phases. I assert that positive education research has the potential to make a significant contribution to how teaching and learning are conceptualised within the next decade to create more resilient, robust and flourishing education systems.

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