08 SES 13, Wellbeing and Schooling: Cross cultural and cross disciplinary perspectives
This paper examines young people’s psychological wellbeing and health perceptions in two contrasting national contexts. Despite growing international comparative evidence on children’s wellbeing from surveys conducted by organisations like Unicef (e.g. 2013) and for the Children’s Worlds project (see Pople, Rees, Main, & Bradshaw, 2015), the data gathered include a somewhat limited range of indicators for different domains (e.g. education) that are predominantly objective in nature (e.g. educational achievement). As enshrined by the World Health Organization (1948), wellbeing and health are closely coupled thus consideration of these should go hand-in-hand. The Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study (Inchley et al., 2016) provides comparative data on a range of health and risk behaviours/outcomes (such as eating behaviours and physical activity),but has limited coverage of explicit insight as to the interactions between the various components of health, psychological wellbeing and objective versus subjective perspectives. Wellbeing researchers are developing increasingly sophisticated models of wellbeing informed by different disciplinary perspectives. Work within positive psychology delineating psychological wellbeing has been particularly fruitful in making the key distinction between hedonic (feeling good) and eudaimonic (self-actualisation or functioning well) wellbeing (see for instance Deci & Ryan, 2008). Psychological wellbeing along these lines and young people’s own perceptions are not captured in the large international surveys which have also tended to include only westernised contexts. Having an annual wellbeing measurement programme within the UK (see Beardsmore, 2015), contrasts strongly with Kazakhstan, where only one limited survey of children’s wellbeing has been undertaken (Roelen & Gassmann, 2012). This paper draws on two studies led by the first author deploying the same instrument (see McLellan & Steward, 2015) that included psychological wellbeing (19 shared items) and health perception indicators (6 shared items). The first study concerned around 1000 young people’s wellbeing and health perceptions as they transitioned from primary to secondary schooling in England and the second; a 4-wave project looking at around 7000 young people’s wellbeing in Kazakhstan. Although the analysis is not yet complete, interesting findings, such as the universal nature of concepts of some aspects of wellbeing and differences between children who speak Russian and Kazakh at home and those in different school contexts have already emerged. This suggests that cultural universals and differences need to be investigated and considered further at both local, regional and national levels if young people’s wellbeing and health perceptions are to be fully understood.
Beardsmore, R. (2015). Measuring National Well-being: Insights into children's mental health and well-being. London: Office for National Statistics Retrieved from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/measuringnationalwellbeing/2015-10-20. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Hedonia, Eudaimonia, and well-being: An Introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 1-11. Inchley, J., Currie, D., Young, T., Samdal, O., Torsheim, T., Augustson, L., . . . Barnekow, V. (2016). Growing up unequal: gender and socioeconomic differences in young people's health and well-being. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: international report from the 2013/2014 survey. : McLellan, R., & Steward, S. (2015). Meauring Student Wellbeing in the School Context. Cambridge Journal of Education, 45(3), 307-332. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2014.889659 Pople, L., Rees, G., Main, G., & Bradshaw, J. (2015). The Good Childhood Report 2015. Retrieved from London: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/TheGoodChildhoodReport2015.pdf Roelen, K., & Gassmann, F. (2012). Child well-being in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from http://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/child-wellbeing-in-kazakhstan UNICEF Office of Research. (2013). Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview. Retrieved from Florence: http://www.unicef.org.uk/Images/Campaigns/FINAL_RC11-ENG-LORES-fnl2.pdf World Health Organization. (1948). Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; and entered into force on 7 April 1948.
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