Analysis of moral education textbooks in the United Arab Emirates: Implications for positive education implementation
Keywords:positive education, moral education, United Arab Emirates, textbook analysis
Moral education (ME) and positive education (PE) are two approaches to addressing the “whole person” within the educational system. Societies have been concerned with developing their citizens morality, character, civic engagement, mental wellness, happiness, and fulfillment for hundreds of years, but the integration of these efforts into schools has become more formalized in recent decades. ME and PE are distinct concepts but also share numerous similarities. The current study explored the potential convergence and divergence between these two approaches within the UAE education system by coding textbooks from the moral education programme (MEP) curriculum for themes related to the key PE constructs of growth mindset, mindfulness, character strengths/virtues, resilience and mental toughness, self-efficacy, positive emotion, flourishing, and well-being. Our analysis found that many of these constructs are addressed implicitly and explicitly within MEP textbooks across all three educational cycles (grade 2, 6 and 9). In general, they were more prevalent in the younger grades and decreased as grade level increased. Additionally, multi-faceted themes like flourishing and character strengths/virtues were more common than those that were quite specific like self-efficacy. Results suggest that the UAE is already addressing some PE constructs within its centralized MEP. Efforts to establish both ME and PE within the education system may be more efficient if they are seen as complementary and overlapping, not entirely distinct. By incorporating principles from PE that are most culturally relevant into the MEP, it is more likely to be adopted and sustained long-term.