Happiness: A Magic Potion for Excellence in Education
‘In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.’ -Abraham Lincoln
While education is an integral part of our lives, the education system in our country has always been very rigid. This formal structure of education has been facing challenges while preparing students to face real-world situations that not only demands subject-wise knowledge but also emotional intelligence.
Ten years ago, education in India was all about scoring great marks and securing a good living out of it. It never talked about the actual significance of knowledge which can further help learners to become wise and responsible citizens. Therefore, the terms pertaining to emotion attached to education were only ‘pressure’, ‘frustration’, ‘challenge’ etc.
Our country has witnessed the unfortunate consequences of such academic pressure. The World Happiness Report 2019 ranks India 140 out of 156 countries. Between 2014 and 2016, 26,000 students took their lives and 30% of them did so because of failure in examinations. While depression is spreading its wings and hindering the lives of youth, the numbers of suicides are increasing in every passing year.
To address this issue, the Delhi government launched the Happiness Curriculum last year. Till date, the curriculum has been introduced in more than 1000 Delhi government schools between Nursery and Grade 8. Following its implementation, from Monday to Saturday, students now compulsorily have 45 minutes of ‘happiness session’. The objective of this curriculum is to instil self-awareness amongst young learners, stimulate their mental health, character and resilience and improve their cognitive ability. The incorporation of Happiness Curriculum is expected to reduce anxiety, depression and intolerance among students and prepare them to face challenges and find solutions for them independently.
Why happiness is a necessity
The development of Happiness Curriculum began with the question, ‘What makes a good life?’ Despite having materialistic requirements throughout our lives, we know that materials are not the only components that can bring joy in our lives. One must develop emotionally, spiritually and intellectually to cherish life for what it is and be happy about it. With the introduction of Happiness Curriculum, the Delhi Government has challenged the stereotypical ideas of happiness which has, since the Victorian Age, been very much influenced by materials and convenience.
Approximately 40 teachers in collaboration with four NGOs were chosen to design the curriculum that was aimed to develop ‘emotionally sound students’. Before designing the curriculum, facilitators were trained with ‘Madhyasth Darshan’ philosophy which talks about understanding every aspect of life, including spiritual, intellectual, behavioural and material. The curriculum intends to help learners embrace themselves for who they are by creating a stimulating environment through mindfulness, critical thinking, story-telling and experimental, play-based activities.
In the happiness classes, facilitators focus less on the prescribed syllabus and pay more attention to individual students. The classes let students express themselves freely with no fear of right and wrong and without the fear of being judged. What can be more joyous and peaceful than being able to express oneself unrestrainedly?
The true purpose of education will not be served unless we humans become capable of embracing the values of life, develop a stimulated intellect, show tolerance for disagreeable belief systems, maintain interest in various aspects of life and contribute to the development of society. Happiness Curriculum is the magical potion that emphasises on developing the character of students and helping them live a stress-free life. It aims to make students learn not merely for high scores and rank but for enriching their lives so that it resonates with the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology, ‘Literary education is of no value if it is not able to build up a sound character.’