If you go to any school and ask kids what they want probably the most common answer would be to be happy. If you ask parents what they want for their kids, almost certainly the most common answer would be again to be happy. This is natural, almost a knee jerk reaction (if you have kids and somebody asks you the same question what is the first thing that comes to your mind?). So, not surprisingly, many schools now, with best intentions, want to contribute to what matters most to children and parents and as a result, we can see a proliferation of happiness classes. But, there is a problem with this. In effect, it would be easy to make young people happy straight away. Just get them out of school all together! Most of them enjoy playing more than discipline and effort that learning process requires. Think about how happy kids were, when recently many school closed down because of the bad weather. Yet, we all recognise the purpose of schools and the suggestion to shut them down would be absurd. So, what do we really want for our children besides being immediately happy? Well, an additional question may be helpful in this respect: ‘Would you like your kids to be happy just now, or to be happy long term, grow in happy adults?’ It is fair guess that the majority of parents would say that they want their kids to grow in happy adults. This is important, because such a long term happiness may sometimes clash with short term, immediate happiness – and this is overlooked in the current focus on happiness. Children, understandably, are not yet at the stage at which taking into account long term benefits and goals comes naturally to them. Of course, their immediate happiness does matter, but we should not throw the baby with the bath water. So, the subjective sense of feeling good needs to be balanced with nurturing more objective, long term well-being.
This is how our programmes differ from happiness classes. The emphasis is on fostering personal and social development leading to long term well-being and flourishing. This approach is more compatible with an overall purpose of education and with an attempt to nurture social conscience in parallel with individual happiness. What does it mean in practice? Well, we believe that for example, fostering love for learning may be as important as passing exams, that developing self-respect may be even more valuable than high self-esteem, that autonomy and freedom cannot be separated from self-discipline and personal responsibility and that being happy with and for others is superior to being happy on expense of others. Of course, educating pupils in this way must be more thorough than a few interventions that suppose to make them feel good offer, and this is what our programmes aim to provide.
We offer two programmes that can be a part of PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) to schools, colleges, universities and organisations that specialise in adult education: Personal Synthesis Programme and the Well-Being Curriculum. Both programmes are compatible with SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) requirements. For further details please follow the relevant links.
The programmes can be of various duration and are delivered in several formats:
- Our certified practitioners can run programmes with pupils and students directly. In this case, the course can take the form of scheduled weekly sessions throughout a whole academic year. Shorter modules (normally lasting 8 weeks), full day workshops or a few hour long sessions on a particular subject are also available.
- In-house training: we can introduce the programmes and provide the materials for those who would like to incorporate some aspects of the programmes into their existing practices (level 1). We can also train teachers and other practitioners to run programmes on their own (level 2) and eventually train other practitioners (level 3).
- Our programmes have been implemented in a number of educational institutions in the UK and abroad. For further details see where the programmes have been run and testimonies.