Why Happiness in Education - The Need
Happiness in India
As per the World Happiness Report 2018 published on 14th March 2018 by the United Nations, India ranks 133 of the 156 countries that were evaluated. It is pertinent to note that in 2018 India dropped 10 ranks from its former rating in 2017 i.e 122 of 155 countries. This report calls for attention as one of the youngest nations in the world (where 34.33% of its population will comprise youth by 2020) is slowly becoming a sad place to live in.
Why integrate Happiness in Schools?
Since a vast percentage of Indian population comprises children and the youth, it makes it relatively simple to cater to their well being and psychological health at a place a large number of them are available – Schools.
School years are considered as constructive periods of human growth, the school environment a suitable means to health gradation, self-esteem and life abilities. Mindfulness and resilience-based interventions allow children to develop their attentional and emotional regulation skills improving their engagement in all school activities.
Our education system prioritizes academic achievement and performance above everything else. This pressure can lead children to channelize their inner frustrations and aggression outward through acts of violence and be labeled by the school or community. These so-called negative emotions (anger, aggression, sadness) caused by pressure and stress in children often go unaddressed which further lead to psychological difficulties.
A relevant reason for teaching happiness in schools is the high prevalence of depression among young people worldwide, the small rise in life satisfaction in the last half a century, low students’ satisfaction with schools in many countries, and the synergy between learning and positive emotion. (Rijavec, 2014)
Research indicates that worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s (World Health Organisation, 2017).
Most of the risk taking behaviours and psychological problems among children and adolescents emerge during an adolescent period which can be preventable through a universal, preventive and promotive school mental health programme.
Happiness Curriculum in Delhi Government Schools
A visible action in this direction is the recent launch of ‘The Happiness Curriculum’ in Delhi government schools for Nursery to Class VIII students that commenced from this academic session i.e. July ‘18. The motive behind the launch of this Curriculum is to educate people that the purpose of education is not just to push students continuously to get good marks but it is also to create an environment where a student is happy, confident and self-aware. Hence, the need of the hour is to implement ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in schools. It also shows that where there is a will, a way can be found to make a positive impact on both academic and behavioural outcomes in children.
Benefits for Students and Teachers
A child who is mentally and emotionally healthy has the ability to initiate, develop and endure mutually satisfying relationships. Children who are emotionally healthy are very likely to lead productive lives, prosper in school and even be in good shape physically (Nemours foundation, 2009).
? Increase in wellbeing (Viaforaet al.,2014)
? Decrease in levels of stress (Bluthet al., 2015., Sibingaet al., 2013)
? Smart, caring and committed citizens (Shapiro et al., 2008; MLERN, 2012)
? An improvement in self-regulatory behaviors and executive functioning
? An improvement in social relationships, self-control, and academic performance among middle school students (Rosaen & Benn, 2006)
? Teacher stress management, the creation and sustenance of supportive relationships in the classroom, and a positive classroom climate (Roeser et al., 2012; Jennings et al., 2009)
? Reduction in teacher stress and improvement in teacher performance (Jennings et al., 2011, Solaway, 2011, Gold et al., 2010; Poulin, 2009)
? Increase in self compassion (Flook et al., 2013)
? Enhanced relationships by improving autonomy, closeness and acceptance of one another
? Social connectedness (Hutcherson et al., 2008)
This is the first in a series of five articles on incorporating a happiness curriculum in schools. The next four topics are:
2. What is Happiness - can it be learned and taught to students?
3. Bringing Happiness in the Classroom
4. Impact of the curriculum in a school
5. A Model of Positive Education – an example of a programme as a Whole-School Approach