Happiness & Education: The DNA of student agency?

Do worry! Be happy!  It matters more than you realize for individuals, schools, communities, societies and economies. We should all worry about happy in the context of a balanced diet of emotional states.


Below is a rambling curation of content pieces around the importance of positive affective states on learning.



Much has been written about the relationship between a happy, positive workplace and an effective, productive workforce. But the definition of happiness can be misunderstood – often it is seen as the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative ones, which can lead to work cultures that pressure people into faking positive emotions. Research has shown this “faking” can result in long-term physical and emotional illness.

=We hear the call “We have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future, which means not just being able to work with computers but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy,’” but, is this completely true?


 The truth is, only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers. Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.


 Education is taking note.  A new campus for middle and high school students, which will be built in a rural area outside the metropolis of Chennai, India, is surrounded by farmland and bordered by the ocean, is designed to support the goal of cultivating happiness. Kurani was inspired by a long-running Harvard study that has tracked people over the last 80 years, which found that strong relationships are key to a happy life. But, for trailblazers, it hasn’t been an easy road to happiness!


Headteacher Anthony Seldon was widely criticised when he introduced the first “wellbeing curriculum” at Wellington College a decade agde ago. Wellbeing, it was felt, was antagonistic to academic achievement. And despite the success of the programme – Wellington soared up the league tables “quicker than any school in history” over the next nine years – Hunter reports that her colleagues were initially sceptical about her happiness programme


 So, how do you do it? Influential education expert Craig Kemp shared his top strategies and notes importantly, know the Statistics! – There are so many statistics out there about kids, happiness and well-being as it is a buzz right now. All of which are extremely important. Do research and openly share them. Research like this from the OECD and this from Common Sense Media are well-respected sources to use to inform your school’s digital well-being program. I also love this graphic showing what happens in an internet minute. It is a real eye-opener for teachers and parents to help them understand how to adapt their daily practices and strategies to suit the changing needs of their young ones.

http://mrkempnz.com/2018/02/6-ways-to-promote-well-being-health-and-happiness-in-your-school.html     (Huffington Post top 12 Education Blogs)

 And if you’re an Edweek member, you can find the 13 top tiups from one of the worlds happiest places- no, not Disneyland, Florida.

https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/06/24/ctq_faridi_finland.html   (note 2014)

So, is it good for learning? Apparently

“There is a large and growing body of research which indicates that people experiencing positive emotions perceive more options when trying to solve problems, solve more non-linear problems that require insight, [and they] collaborate better and generally perform better overall.”

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/happiness-learning-connection-rebecca-alber (Edutopia- How are happiness and learning connected)

Emma Seppala, the author of “The Happiness Track,” and science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, has not lost hope. Dr. Seppala admits that yes, happiness can be a rare beast in our classrooms, but we can create and protect learning conditions in which happiness can flourish


And, guess what? It makes you smarter!

Researchers at Research Schools International partnered with administrators, teachers, and students at St Andrew’s Episcopal School and The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning to study happiness and academic achievement. Read and find out what they discovered!

https://theconversation.com/its-true-happier-students-get-higher-grades-41488 (the Conversation

That’s it-do worry, be happy- it matters more than you realize.

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