Should Schools Teach Happiness?
Okay, I’ve got today’s watercooler topic for you: Should schools teach happiness? Here’s a video for you to to review and weigh in on:
The video is a short review of a happiness program at a German high school, designed to teach young people how to be happier. Critics argue it’s a gimmick designed to boost exam scores, since happy students apparently do better on exams. I contend that if these happiness classes are actually boosting happiness and increasing scores at the same time, the critics should find a more convincing argument.
The classes are optional for students. Of course, Tal Ben-Shahar’s happiness class at Harvard is optional too, and it’s quickly become one of the most popular courses on the Harvard campus because there’s a real hunger for this sort of education. Unlike Ben-Shahar’s class, which focuses on long-term life satisfaction, the classes at this German high school appear to be focused on helping students cope with negative feelings, including anxiety. This is very much an in-the-moment view of happiness, but it’s certainly a start in the right direction.
High school is a tough time for many students, an emotional roller coaster of esteem issues, social anxiety, and peer pressure. I know from experience that unhappy students don’t perform as well as happy ones, all things being equal. In fact, that’s one of the points made by the headmaster in charge of this program, who said:
“We know that by being happy you can learn more easily. Depressive children are restricted in their learning abilities.”
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the German school system, so I won’t even begin to offer an opinion about whether this particular class is a good idea. However, I am interested in having a conversation about whether this type of class makes sense in theory.
So what do you think? Should schools teach happiness? And if so, what topics should those classes cover? Go ahead and check out the video (that’s why I posted it), and then leave your opinion in the comments section.
October 12, 2007 Friday at 5:16 pm