“PERMA and Deep Learning:
how to develop student’s happiness at school”


Meet Ray, Physical Education teacher, ICHK (Hong-Kong)

I met Ray at the International College of Hong-Kong (ICHK), a fantastic and very dynamic small international school. He is the head of the Physical Education department, and he introduced me two exciting programs launched this year: PERMA and Deep learning.



It is a model developed by Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology. He defined five core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. PERMA is an acronym and stands for :
P — Positive Emotion
E — Engagement
R — Relationships
M — Meaning
A — Accomplishments

Seligman encourages institutions to develop programs using this model to help people acquire new cognitive an emotional tools, as ICHK did in their curriculum.

In Physical Education, Ray teaches each grade six lessons to help his students get familiar with these concepts and uses them to build his activities and assessments. So, in his classes, students are assessing their physical performance but also their well-being so that they understand how the two are closely related one to another.

Ray admits that it’s challenging to measure its effects on students because it is a new program and the results are subjective and hard to evaluate, but he feels that students are more aware of themselves over the months.

I like that this program connects physical and psychological well-being as two things inextricably tied together.


The bamboo playground


The Deep Learning program, launched this year is « designed to encourage independence, motivation, enjoyment, and depth in student learning. » Started with students in year 7 to 9, Deep Learning is a four days program offering students some interdisciplinary real-life experiences to develop new skills, improve their knowledge and stimulate motivation through engaging challenges.

For example, in Hong-Kong, bamboos are widely used in scaffoldings so one of the programs aimed at creating a Bamboo Playground for the school in partnership with a Laos NGO to replicate it in Laos schools. This program was designed to improve students knowledge of construction and Science while raising awareness of sustainability among students. These projects are also created to develop soft skills like communication, flexibility, money management.

You can find everything about the Deep Learning program in ICHK here.

I found this program thought-provoking as it relates real life and academic knowledge, and offers students different perspectives and a more concrete approach to what might appear abstract during class. However, it is much more demanding to teachers concerning team collaboration and upstream work.