‘Pursuit of Happiness’ in a Classroom

Education is meaningless without happiness” – Manish Sisodia
Image Credit: Clicked by me

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”

Mahatma Gandhi

It took one microorganism to make us aware of the fleeting nature of this life. There is a sense of realization among all of us about a lot of things. How all of us were just running a rat race to reach somewhere which we didn’t even know? We wanted to be productive 24*7 and 365 days of the year. We were collecting all material resources but we didn’t have enough time to experience the pleasure of those things. The current lock down forced us to slow down. This pandemic made us realize the value of happiness, satisfaction and living our life in the moment. This whole crisis is reminding us to be sensitive towards other human beings, nature and, especially towards our own lives.

However, a lot of us are not happy now and also we were not happy earlier. When things were so-called normal, we had other problems to talk about and now in this ‘new normal’, we are not happy because our movement is restricted, we are not able to go out and do whatever we want. As per the World Happiness Report 2020, India was ranked 144 out of 156 countries. Why do Indians not perceive themselves to be happy? What is the reason behind it? Did we ever learn about happiness in our schools or colleges? Did someone from our family ever talked about happiness or being mindful of our thoughts and emotions?

Though whenever we touched the feet of our elders, they told us to ‘be happy’, no one taught us how to be happy and what is happiness and what needs to be done to achieve happiness. We realize the value of happiness as we grow or we face some difficult phases in our life or maybe some people might be realizing the value of happiness during this lock down amid the unprecedented corona virus pandemic.

Nevertheless, the Delhi government’s experiment to start a happiness class in schools for class I to VIII has not only inspired the other Indian states but also other countries. During the recent visit by the US President, the first lady Millenia Trump visited one of the schools of Delhi government and attended the happiness class and found it “very inspiring”. This book is a story of the Delhi education model. It’s written by the education minister and the Deputy Chief Minister in the Delhi government. Written in a very simple language and a few pages, he covers all the radical reforms as well as innovative ideas taken by his team to make this idea a talking point for not only the country but also for the world.He, along with his colleagues Atishi Marlena and Shailendra Sharma took this experiment of bringing about radical reforms in the education system of the Delhi government.

These reforms are holistic as it covered almost every aspect be it infrastructure, allocation of the budget towards the education sector, empowering the principal to appoint estate managers and providing high- quality training to teachers, engaging parents through mega-PTM and School Management Committee(SMC) , and most importantly creating the education model of coexistence through happiness classes and entrepreneurship mindset curriculum.

Starting a happiness class with a happiness curriculum in a government school of India is a path-breaking step by the Delhi government towards pursuing happiness not only as a State but as a nation. Happiness curriculum is based on the “co existential thought” (Madhasth Darshan) inspired by education philosopher A Nagraj. This thought is based on understanding all aspects of life, including spiritual, intellectual behaviour, and material. The idea is to address the mental and emotional needs of the children by creating a stimulating environment through mindfulness, critical thinking, story-telling, and activity-based discussions where children reflect on their thoughts and reactions scientifically. Through these processes, the child becomes self-aware and also towards family, society, and its surroundings.

Anecdotal evidence shows that there have been noticeable changes happening among the children. Behavior of students is changing towards their teachers and parents. They are becoming inquisitive towards learning other subjects. This book mentions some interesting anecdotes from happiness class where one child started asking his mother if there is any food for her before eating dinner and one kid became aware of his father’s financial situation and stopped asking for an expensive school bag.

It is so ironic for us as a society as well as a nation that we taught our children mathematics, science, history, geography, economics, business, etc, but we never taught them how to be happy, how to be mindful of our thoughts, how to critically analyze any issue before making any judgement, how to live in harmony with nature. We learned how to make money but we didn’t know how to live our lives with satisfaction and enjoyment because it’s not about material things, a high paying job or, a big house we have but its about how do we feel inside? Are we able to understand our emotions? Why are we feeling what we are feeling?

Amid this pandemic leading to this moment of reflection, we as a family, as a society and as a nation need to realize the value of inculcating happiness, self-awareness, satisfaction, and how to live in harmony with nature. So, this is the moment we should start pursuing the feeling of happiness forever as an individual, as a family, as a society, and as a nation.

This blog has been republished by The Arm Chair Journal. Please find the link here.

4 thoughts on “‘Pursuit of Happiness’ in a Classroom

  1. Thank you so much for this message to people about education reformation!! In my mind it is the easiest problem that could be fixed, yet to many, it’s not profitable. It won’t yield short term profits which seems to be what many are after. If we teach kids how to be inquisitive and mindful for a better path towards happiness it would be quite the long term process, but it would yield long term results. I believe that in order to implement this kind of change we need to make room for it, we need to be willing to cut ties with what we have been doing for so long in so called traditional school settings. It’s just not working! I work at a school and everyday I see that most kids are for the social aspect and very few are engaged in what is being taught. There are a handful of students who do go above and beyond what is taught in the school and I believe they learn more from those extra curricular activities than anything else. There is one little boy who has found an early passion for science, but not because of the school setting necessarily, it’s because you tube and having an analytical mind! Thankfully his mom has helped aid in continuing to cultivate that! Ironically, this young man is not the most well behaved in class and he struggles in other areas of his education, but he has won many science fair project awards and he is only in second grade!! I believe like you, that we need to change where we put our focus on in the education realm!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a very nice read. Thank you for sharing! 😄 I would like to know whether this book contains any quantitative data based on surveys to justify the inclusion of the new courses, other than qualitative results? I have seen many premiere institutes introducing courses on happiness in the curriculum and that again eventually just boils down to grades. Just curious!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No, They have not included any quantitative data in this book. However, Brookings India in partnership with Dream a Dream has started a ” Happiness Project” to develop measures for assessing the happiness curriculum for evaluating its effectiveness.

    The goals of the Happiness project are:
    1. to understand and identify the factors that contribute to happiness;
    2. to develop measures that capture teacher and student behaviors associated with the factors that contribute to happiness; and
    3. to analyze the curriculum to identify the expected standards regarding teacher and student behaviors.

    Liked by 1 person

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