Happiness in classrooms

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jul 8, 2018, 1:59 am IST
Updated Jul 8, 2018, 1:59 am IST
As the Delhi government seeks to implement a happiness curriculum in state-run schools, here's what the experts make of it.
A still from the movie Stanley Ka Dabba.
 A still from the movie Stanley Ka Dabba.

In an effort to bring a reform in the educational sector, the Delhi government has launched a ‘happiness curriculum’ in state-run schools. The curriculum involves a happiness period of 45 minutes and five minutes of meditation before each class. A team of 40 experts has prepared the curriculum, which includes meditation, moral values and mental exercises.

The new step, according to the government, is an effort to solve various modern day issues like terrorism, corruption and pollution through human-centric education.

 

We talk to educationalists, teachers and students about their take on having a ‘happiness period’ included in their timetables.

‘Boon for student community’
I  am very happy to hear this news. This is a very essential need today for the student community. In our younger days, parents and grandparents took more care to teach us moral values. Grandparents used to tell bedtime stories with morals, which made impressions on the tender minds. In today’s busy world, both parents are working and they have no time to spend with their children. When I was a student, we used to enjoy the moral science period that used to be held on Wednesdays. Our teachers would tell moral value-based stories and instilled confidence in us. But today, children are playing inside the four walls with their mobiles and laptops. Online games cultivate only violence, bloodshed and cruelty. Many classes now are converted into test periods and math, science special classes. We are preparing our students to be marks-fetching machines. Nobody cares about their stress, mental condition and good character. In this scenario, steps taken to introduce moral values through stories and games and meditation classes to inculcate emotional balance are appreciated. The ‘happiness curriculum’ will definitely be a boon to the student community.
V. Raju, National award winning Teacher

‘An institutional flavour’
Well, I'm generally a bit sceptical about timetabling or mandating things like happiness or tolerance or even broader efforts such as peace education. Not because I don't think they aren't valuable, but because the moment you put something into the timetable it takes on an institutional flavour and can become more about form than substance. The intent is certainly laudable but I wonder what can be achieved by putting 'happiness' into a silo instead of trying to imbue the entire experience of childhood education with happiness and positivity- in school and out of it.
Dr Usha Raman, Professor of Digital Culture, University of Hyderabad

‘Should be made mandatory’
Initiating the ‘happiness curriculum’ will hopefully give the ‘relevance’ edge to Indian education. What is taught in schools must essentially prepare young ones to lead better and more harmonious lives. This, unfortunately, has been the missing piece in school education until now. The happiness period brings with it the hope that children will be taught skills that are enduring and meaningful in life. Mastery of the mind, taking responsibility for one’s destructive emotions and learning how to restore inner balance and peace through the proposed curriculum are key life skills that help in the development of the prefrontal cortex, enhancing human virtues of empathy and compassion. This is likely to make those trained in these practices gentler, more caring, kinder and equipped to deal with their personal challenges more effectively. This, in turn, can pave the way for a more socially sensitive and peaceful society. In my view, the happiness curriculum should be made mandatory in all schools, not just in state-run schools.
Suzy Singh, Life Skills Educationist

Extend to all classes
I don’t think it should be called ‘happiness curriculum’, because happiness is not something that can be taught in a classroom. The way the course is structured, it can help children be less stressed, understand introspection and reflection, which are necessary elements of emotional development. It will help children have a better emotional quotient. They need to change the name of the curriculum; otherwise, everyone might take it lightly. Also, it should be for all classes. If you stop at class VIII, you’re saying that it was all fun and games, but from now on students should focus on studying.
Dr Swati Popat Vata, President Podar Education Network

‘Ray of hope’
There are three core skills every student must have to be able to survive in this fast-growing world — empathy, creativity and teamwork. This approach was lacking when I was attending school. The new curriculum  seems to help holistically deve lop these skills, which will definitely help these students to survive better.  Also, the rate of depression among teenagers, specifically highschoolers is increasing every day. This curriculum seems to be a ray of hope to help these youngsters do better!
Garvita Gulhati, PES University, Bengaluru

Focus on student-teacher rapport
Introduction of ‘happiness curriculum’ in schools will help in enhancing the personality of children, but teachers have a big role in making it possible. They need to build a good rapport with every child. Without having a good teacher-student relationship, this won’t be possible.
Rajamma, former headmistress, SDPY boys higher secondary School, Kochi

HT-23





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