Happiness is the basis of success

5th October 2007 at 01:00
While agreeing with the need to end poverty's effects on children in the UK, I was disappointed to read the sentiments of Peter Wilby (TES, September 28).

The sports college where I teach is possibly the first British school to champion exploration of happiness, starting well before the Wellington College experiment. In this time, the fundamental benefits of emotional intelligence and well-being have moved our community forward, enhancing relationships, individual motivation and general ambience. We are a happy school where previously we were not.

This goes together with opportunities for students to engage in real learning and meaningful achievement. Facing challenges, perhaps through wilderness experience or community-based projects, often alongside those less fortunate, provide foundations for happy, successful lives and thus a happy, successful nation.

Mr Wilby lists subjects that are "useful, interesting and stimulating". As students would say, "whatever". The narrow individual subject-based curriculum has had its day. Education must develop skills, attitudes and understanding needed for the real world and not just keep universities happy. What is more important than traits such as persistence, optimism, willpower, self-control, motivation, empathy, self-awareness and a positive self-image?

The recent Unicef report showed the UK bottom of the league in health, well being and engagement of children. We are palpably failing our young which is a national scandal. The development of happiness is a big step on the road to improvement and will have a far more profound influence for positive change than banging on about "teaching facts and skills".

Andy Dukes The Wey Valley School, Weymouth,

Dorset

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