Educational well-being or being well in education: A philosophical and empirical inquiry into the nature of well-being in education


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Well-being is increasingly of interest to schools and educational policy makers in the UK and beyond. This thesis is a philosophical and empirical enquiry into the relationship between well-being and education and into the nature of a theory and practice of well-being in educational settings.
Well-being, I will argue, is not a single entity or the private possession of an individual; nor is it an add-on or optional extra for educators. It is rather an intergenerational, shared embodied theory and practice, an intrinsic goal of education and an inherent and constitutive part of how we engage in education. Well-being is not something we ‘deliver' and we may not be able to teach or produce it directly. However, we can attempt to create an environment in which it can occur.
I will argue that the qualities of this environment should be the focus of those who wish to promote well-being in education and that teachers need an educational environment which will allow them and their pupils, to be well. Using Arendt's The Human Condition as a key insight into human ways of being and doing I will argue that well-being, being well, occurs when there is balance between the different activities that humans engage in and a balance in how they engage in those activities. I will also argue that such a balanced environment will serve a key educational function, the containment of anxiety and the containment of love.
Theory and practice are indivisible and this theory arose from 13 years of practice in schools as an advisor into well-being in education. I therefore put my own emergent theory into practice by using it to develop a reflective research methodology, contemplative reflection, with which to study a well-being project I co-created and worked with for 13 years, which is called Celebrating Strengths.
Date of Award13 Mar 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorFIONA HALLETT (Director of Studies), DAMIEN SHORTT (Supervisor), LEON CULBERTSON (Supervisor) & MARTIN ASHLEY (Supervisor)


  • well-being
  • positive psychology
  • psychodynamic
  • somaesthetics
  • character strengths
  • virtues
  • anxiety
  • love
  • education

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