Busting school stress with happiness classes
NEW DELHI: Delhi students are finally finding happiness in schools. A typical Happiness Class starts with students rubbing their hands and putting them on the eyes to relax. A little bit of meditation follows. Children are themselves feeling the sounds of their surroundings. At peace with themselves, they then go into discussions and exchange their ideas about anything under the sun. The 45 minutes pass with happy faces all around –and it is now time to take out books.
The Happiness Curriculum of the Delhi government is helping students to change their attitude towards studies, noted the teachers of different schools. According to the students, during the Happiness Class, the students focus on things they would otherwise skip.
Students indulge in joyful exercises, indoor games, active enquiry, reflective conversations, storytelling, guided practices for mindfulness, group discussions and situation based role-play and skits. The new and unique curriculum was launched by Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia to develop self-awareness and mindfulness amongst students. "It aimed to inculcate the skill of critical thinking and inquiry among the students," said an Education Department official.
The official said the challenges in the school system had gone beyond learning standards and academic results. "A research conducted on suicides in India has revealed that in addition to the challenges of learning and achieving, students come to school with stresses arising from many sources including family disturbances, peer conflicts, socio-cultural components and vulnerabilities to physical and mental health risk factors," said an official.
The research revealed 26 suicides were reported every 24 hours due to issues including drugs, broken families, fights with friends and break-ups. "Prolonged exposure to such stresses leads to long term physiological and emotional disturbances, which severely hinders a child's learning and development," the official said. According to the Delhi government, the Happiness Curriculum Framework was designed following the guiding principles given by the National Curriculum Framework (NCERT, 2005).
"Children learn in a variety of ways –through experience, making and doing things, experimentation, reading, discussions, questioning, listening, thinking and reflecting, and expressing oneself in speech, movement or writing, both individually and with others," said the official from the Directorate of Education, Delhi.