The Positive Project is an exciting new initiative that combines modern psychology, timeless Jewish ideals and innovative multimedia tools to encourage a collaborative and compassionate school culture. Many students assume that happiness and positivity are generated externally without realizing that a large majority of our mood is ours for the making. The Positive Project teaches the mechanics of happiness and wellbeing by utilizing evidence-based exercises and thought-provoking workshops. Happiness is an acquired skill that students can now learn for themselves rather than waiting for it to magically appear at the end of some imaginary rainbow. I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescence hoping to discover happiness and joy; now I know that these are not prizes to be won, but skills to be honed.
2. How has the proliferation of Social Media changed formal education and how has it affected building relationships with teens?
Social media provide a great way to meet students where their attention already is: on their own screens. This doesn't mean stalking them or patrolling their digital whereabouts; it means including them in innovative projects and encouraging their input and participation. Students are generally more defensive in formal school settings than they are on social media; it's as though we are visiting them on their own home court. Less confrontational and more collaborative, the digital arena provides an oasis for this more complimentary style of learning.
3. What are you most looking forward to at YouthCon?
The world of Jewish education finds itself at a fascinating crossroads. There seems to be a wide range of people carrying the torch of Jewish wisdom into the 21st century via all sorts of interesting and innovative avenues. I'm looking forward to collaborating with and learning from these various visionaries. Their passion is often contagious.
Doni Joszef is a cognitive psychotherapist practicing with adolescents and young adults in Cedarhurst. He is a member of the DRS Guidance Department, where he founded the "POSITIVE PROJECT," an innovative, cutting-edge initiative based on evidence based psychology to promote a school-wide culture of wellbeing. For more information, visit: http://www.deficitofattention.com/