69 – Ikigai’s Influence on Educators and Students with Matthew Borg

How can we promote better education with the help of ikigai?

Education holds significance for all individuals, yet at times, it can become a source of stress. This is where concepts like ikigai can prove beneficial, not only for students but also for educators, aiding in the development of a more tailored and effective approach to learning

In this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, Nick and Matthew Borg discuss the significance of implementing the concept of ikigai within an educational context.

Guiding the path to learning

“Everything I do in life, and the things I'm most proud of aren't things that I've been paid for, let alone things that sort of made me happy. A lot of things that I've done, as I've had to endure some suffering, some hill or mountain that I've had to climb to get to the other side. 

But the sense of accomplishment when I've done that, not just for myself individually, but when I've dragged other people up to that peak with me, and being able to carry their baggage to get them up there; and then let them be free to go on to the next peak; and I can stay and have a rest is something that I think is a great sort of metaphor for learning and education.

We're shepherds in the learning journey for either the adults that I serve as teachers, and also the students, and being able to create not a path but a sense of direction for these people to move on into the future to become the best humans they possibly can.”
- Matthew Borg

Ikigai at Keilor Views Primary School

Podcast Highlights

Matthew Borg

The staffroom ikigai board at Keilor Views Primary.

Matthew Borg is an empowerprenuer who views learning as living with passion and purpose.

He serves as the principal at Keilor Views Primary School in Victoria, Australia, and is a member of the board of the Victorian Principals Association.

Gaining knowledge about ikigai

Ikigai has had a profound impact on Matthew’s personal life. By identifying his ikigai sources, he was able to utilise the ideas of finding purpose, meaning, and real connection.

He discovered that two different sources of ikigai can be combined to create an experience he referred to as a 'super ikigai.' For instance, when his ikigai for educational leadership research intersects with his ikigai for his family--he uses his knowledge to nurture and empower his children, resulting in positive outcomes for his entire family.

He also sees ikigai as a form of self-care, immersing himself in nature and making time for himself and his family, which generates positive bursts of energy that he can tap into daily.

Ikigai in professional life

The pandemic has emphasised the importance of social-emotional learning and emotional intelligence for educators. As a result, Matthew's institution has established three main principles around empowerment leadership: self-efficacy, collective efficacy, and doing the right work.

  • Self-efficacy - This involves understanding and realising one's capabilities.

  • Collective efficacy - This principle emphasises that educators, as a collective, come to school to empower and make a positive impact on their students.

  • Doing the right work - Once educators recognize what's essential for each learner, they can engage in the appropriate activities to scaffold learning experiences for their students.

As an educational leader, Matthew ensures that these principles are applied within their institution, fostering a culture of empowerment. This is similar to creating an ibasho – a place where staff members and students can feel safe, a comfortable place where they can grow and learn.

“The ibasho idea is where we come to a place to provide learning experiences for students in which we find ourselves experiencing states of flow, and connection, that resonates just as much with people as with their own home life.” - Matthew Borg

Implementing ikigai needs into workplace culture

Matthew and his colleagues were able to incorporate Mieko Kamiya's ikigai needs into their workplace culture. They related Kamiya's needs to Seligman's PERMA Theory, and used them as tools that have helped them understand themselves better, enabling them to perform at an optimum level for their students. This has resulted in students feeling encouraged to go to school, knowing that it is a safe place where they can be themselves and be celebrated for their strengths.

“We started with the people who have the most impact on our students daily, which are teachers; if they have self-efficacy, and they understand how positive psychology works, they understand it can link to their own ikigai. They can utilise ikigai in their classroom with other students and develop connections and form a space that is healthy and happy that is conducive to that learning experience.” - Matthew Borg

Ikigai in pedagogy

Matthew acknowledges the importance of integrating ikigai into pedagogy. He also believes in the value of conducting action research within the educational setting, fostering a culture of ongoing learning for both faculty and students. As educational environments continue to evolve, they empower students to take charge of their learning journeys that resonate most with their ikigai, which may help them craft their future.

The impact of ikigai on students

Once students understand the concept of ikigai, they can begin to identify what gives them the greatest sense of purpose and fulfilment in life. This discovery can serve as a powerful motivator for their studies and provide them with something meaningful to look back on in the future. Additionally, it can enhance their self-awareness and their ability to understand those around them.

For educators, understanding a child's ikigai allows them to tailor learning experiences to each child.

“I guess you could call it student vibrancy: that they're living a fulfilling life, they're learning, they're not only happy, but they're also willing to embrace a challenge and experience that intrinsic motivation.” - Nicholas Kemp

Student Vibrancy

How schools can integrate ikigai into their work culture

To cultivate a more nurturing school environment, Matthew emphasises that the initial step for any school leader is to put aside their ego. Rather than self-centeredness, the focus should be on establishing an atmosphere where everyone experiences recognition and appreciation.

This is where the concept of ikigai becomes significant. Encouraging teachers and students to discover their ikigai streamlines the process of addressing each individual's needs. This, in turn, facilitates the creation of a learning environment that inspires students and fosters a greater appreciation for education.


Ikigai is a concept that can be applied in all aspects of life, and it is particularly beneficial in the field of education. Educational leaders like Matthew Borg, who recognise the importance of integrating this concept into educational settings, pave the way for improved learning experiences that will guide students toward a brighter future.