Positive education

Positive Education has become deeply embedded in how we connect and engage with our students. We aim to create a safe, supportive and positive learning environment that places flourishing at the heart of education.

Positive Education

Our focus is to support every young person to flourish

Unique in outdoor education, at Outward Bound Netherlands we apply the science of character strengths and human flourishing to our practice of teaching and learning. This research-based approach to improving life skills through the lens of character strengths will help our students to bolster their engagement in life, enhance positive and healthy relationships, give their life greater meaning, increase their accomplishments, and improve their physical and mental health.

our Positive Education model



The Outward Bound Netherlands model of Positive Education begins in the middle circle with the word “Flourish”. Flourishing refers to the experience of life going well – when we feel good and function effectively. Flourishing is the desired outcome we have for our participants.


From our term “flourish” at the core of the model, we move outward to character strengths. It emphasises our focus on developing an understanding of one’s character strengths and learning how to use them in challenging situations to increase our participants’ resilience, wellbeing, and performance.


Our Model for Positive Education comprises six related domains which are rooted in the science of Positive Psychology. Below, we explain how our trainers and coaches aim to make participant learning at Outward Bound more positive.

Nurture Positive Emotions

The Outward Bound trainer aims to create positive emotions in the participants by generating joy, delight, deep engagement in learning, building meaningful relationships, and a sense of belonging to the group.

Build Engagement

The Outward Bound trainer aims to develop positive engagement by helping participants see the relevance of the outdoor activities to real life, giving meaning to the tasks, and making them relevant and understandable. Positive engagement is further promoted through empowerment by encouraging participants to contribute to the design of the activities.

Invest in Relationships

The Outward Bound trainer aims to develop a trusting, collaborative and productive relationship between participant and trainer and among group members through dialogue and appreciative-inquiry based approaches.

Foster Meaning

The Outward Bound trainer aims to create a sense of purpose by ensuring that the activities have meaning for the participants; it should not be a chore. Tasks and activities have meaning when the learning is understandable and relevant to the core concepts of the activities and the programme’s goals.

Grow Accomplishment

The Outward Bound trainer aims to promote a sense of achievement by creating an appropriate level of challenge in the activities that stretches the participants but allows them to succeed by using their skills and other group members’ contribution. Successful outcomes are always satisfying and motivate the participants.

Heighten Health

The Outward Bound trainer aims to develop sustainable habits for optimal physical and psychological health among participants. They are supported to create healthy behaviours such as exercising well, eating healthy, and plenty of sleep.

character strengths 


Character Strengths are the positive parts of people’s personality that impact how they think, feel and behave. Scientists have identified 24-character strengths we all possess to varying degrees. They fall under six broad virtue categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Before commencing an Outward Bound course, participants undertake the VIA Character Strength Survey, designed to measure the 24 character strengths and discover people’s unique character strengths profile. Once participants are aware of their character strengths, learning how to apply their strengths is the next step. In our courses, we explore different ways to use character strengths when facing difficult or challenging circumstances to boost self-awareness and confidence, cultivate greater happiness, and find greater wellbeing. See the full character strengths list below and learn more about each one.


Appreciation is your capacity to notice and enjoy the beautiful and/or excellent things you find in the world around you. You appreciate a wide variety of things – such as the physical environment, a demonstration of someone’s abilities or virtues, or even an interesting piece of knowledge.


Bravery describes your willingness to rise up and confront difficult or threatening situations. You take the time to acknowledge and evaluate the risks involved in facing up to a challenge, and endeavor to derive the best outcome from tough conditions whilst remaining in charge of any feelings of fear you experience.


Creativity describes your preference for producing new ideas and executing behaviours that are original. You’re good at generating novelty, and are able to apply this strength in ways that are useful and beneficial to yourself and others.


Curiosity refers to your appetite for knowledge. You constantly want to learn more by delving into the information you come across and engaging in new experiences. When you observe an opportunity to learn or participate in something new, you take action in order to feed your desire to keep growing.


Fairness refers to your strong sense of what you believe to be right, and your desire to act in accordance with these beliefs. You care deeply about others, and are good at understanding other people’s perspectives.


Forgiveness describes your preference for moving on after a transgression, and your desire to mend fences with the person who has done you wrong. When you show forgiveness, your motivation to respond negatively following an incident of wrongdoing transforms to the desire to cultivate and preserve a harmonious relationship with the transgressor.


Gratitude is your capacity to experience gratefulness for the good things in your life. You’re able to take a moment to notice and appreciate the things that happen to you, or are given to you, which positively influence your life. Furthermore, you’re aware that these things are made possible by something or someone beyond yourself, and so it’s to this source that you readily express your thanks.


Your honesty describes your ability to be authentic when presenting to both yourself and others, leading you to act and speak in ways that reflect what you really think and feel. You know what your values are and you live by them, preferring not to compromise who you are and what you believe in for the sake of popularity.


Hope is your capacity to devote consideration to what lies beyond the ‘here-and-now’. You have goals for the future, you believe they’ll be achieved, and you behave in such a way that promotes the realisation of this belief. You typically see the glass as half full, enabling you to envision positive outcomes and change plans whenever setbacks get in the way.


Humility refers to your ability to accurately perceive and evaluate yourself – including your strengths, achievements, weaknesses, and mistakes. You locate this concept of yourself within the ‘bigger-picture’ of the world, and present yourself to others in accordance with who you genuinely are. You’re good at seeing the worth in all good things, even if they lay outside of you.


Humour describes your ability to generate and appreciate the ‘lighter side’ of the moment, whether confronted with a more difficult circumstance or a regular day-to-day situation. You like to experience laughter yourself, and you enjoy and are good at igniting laughter in those around you.


Open-mindedness is your capacity to challenge your own personal assumptions and consider alternative explanations before coming to a conclusion. You’re able to consider things from different angles and evaluate the various options that are available. As a result, you’re very flexible in your beliefs and opinions whenever new evidence presents itself.


Kindness refers to the readiness and enthusiasm you exhibit towards doing things for other people, whether they’re close to you or more distant acquaintances. You’re generous to others for their sake, rather than your own. You believe that people are deserving of kindness, and don’t seek any personal benefit when you invest in others.


Leadership describes your ability to both organise and encourage others in order to help them accomplish group goals. You help the group to find the best pathways to take, and you’re able to maintain team unity and cohesion along the way. You can inspire others to step-up, and you connect to each member of the team.


Love is your capacity to foster and value the relationships you have with others. Depending upon the nature of the relationship – whether it be a family member, friend, romantic partner, boss or colleague – love takes on different forms of expression. You place the highest value on those relationships that involve mutuality and closeness, where you feel like you’re able to both give and receive love.

Love of Learning

Your love of learning refers to the willingness you have to acquire knowledge or skills; the joy you experience whilst doing it; and the confidence you feel in your ability to reach particular learning outcomes. You learn for the sake of learning, enabling you to persevere with your quest to find out more whenever the task proves difficult or you experience failure.


Perseverance describes your ability to keep at the tasks you set yourself. Even though you confront challenges along the way, you make a choice to keep working towards your goals without letting these discouragements or barriers impede you. Not only are you good at getting things done, you also take pleasure in the accomplishment of your goals.


Perspective describes your capacity to view situations in a way that resonates meaningfully for both yourself and the people you share your views with. You’re good at looking at a situation from different angles, and as such others appreciate your insights and will often seek your counsel.


Prudence can be defined as your ability to think and act in ways that are conducive to the attainment of your future aspirations and long-term goals. You think about and place value on the future, and like to plan for what lies ahead. You readily consider how your decisions will affect certain outcomes, and are good at regulating your behaviours in the present in line with your goals.


Self-regulation describes your ability to remain in charge of what you think, which feelings you experience, and what actions you engage in. You live in a disciplined way in order to meet the various goals you’ve for yourself. Depending on what the situation calls for, you have the ability to overrule your maladaptive impulses; as well as to generate adaptive actions that lie counter to your first inclinations.

Social Intelligence

Your social intelligence refers to your ability to readily notice and understand the emotions and intentions of both yourself and others. In addition, you’re able to use this information to navigate your social world more effectively, and regulate your own emotions and behaviours.


Your spirituality refers to the strong beliefs you hold about the universe’s greater purpose, and your personal understanding of your own place in the world. It‘s these beliefs that influence your sense of meaning and purpose in life.


Teamwork refers to your sense of belonging and commitment to a team or a greater good. You exhibit strong allegiance to the teams that you’re a part of, and always endeavour to make a fair contribution when working in group contexts. You orient yourself towards helping your team to achieve the best outcomes.


Zest describes the sense of enthusiasm and vigour that you experience when engaging in any activity. You’re able to function at optimal levels, and you posses a strong sense of being alive. You fully invest in your experiences and embrace all of the journeys that life takes you on.

Education in its broadest sense is not just about delivering a curriculum. It is about giving young people the chance to extend their life skills. It is about developing their character strengths. It is about fostering their resilience and sense of responsibility. And – let us not forget – it is about the enjoyment, engagement and excitement of venturing out into the real world, with all its capacity for uncertainty, surprise, stimulation and delight.

Outward Bound Netherlands

Outward Bound® and the Compass Rose are each registered trademarks of Outward Bound International. Outward Bound Netherlands is an educational non-profit organisation registered under number 63491419.


Outward Bound International

Outward Bound Netherlands is proud to be part of Outward Bound International. Outward Bound International is a membership organisation of the worldwide Outward Bound network. This network consists of 34 Outward Bound schools around the world.