Theoretical constructs of well-being and their implications for education

Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the broad area of moral philosophy, critiques of well-being values have notably increased since the 1980's. Often underpinning analysis are contrasting theories of well-being, e.g. subjective constructs that value highly reflections on personal experiences and individual fulfillment, and objective theories that emphasise more through specific criteria the societal benefits of well-being. Without detailed recourse to such theorising, education policy making has since the early 2000's onwards tried to tease out the relationship between thriving personally and showing moral integrity towards others via a number of rather superficial and dissimilar curriculum statements. The paper, in trying to improve coherence in this area, reviews contemporary critiques of well-being and argues that a hybridised mix of subjective and objective influences would, if referenced by pupils' own reflective informed thoughts and emotional needs, represent the most productive prospect for education-related developments. The priorities for achieving this form of progress begins by reviewing the main curriculum planning issues that merit analysis if well-being theorising is to more closely connect with educational gains. Thereafter, the main challenge discussed is how teachers can maximise the benefits of pedagogical practices in holistic learning environments where there are clear connections between well-being values, subject knowledge and pupils' previous learning experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-665
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2015


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