Understanding ‘happiness curriculum’ as Melania Trump visits Delhi govt school
US First Lady Melania Trump visited a Delhi government school in south Moti Bagh area on Tuesday to attend a session of the ‘Happiness Class’. She was given a traditional welcome by students dressed in bright-coloured sarees and traditional attire like ‘ghagra-choli’. Some students were carrying bagpipes and other musical instruments.
Ahead of Melania Trump’s visit to the school, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted to welcome her. “@FLOTUS will attend happiness class in our school today. Great day for our teachers, students and Delhiites. For centuries, India has taught spirituality to the world. Am happy that she will take back the msg of happiness from our school,” Kejriwal said.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, also tweeted welcoming the US First Lady. “Welcome to our school @FLOTUS! We hope you would have a great time here in #HappinessClass It’s just 18 months old initiative but early results have made us confident that @HappinessDelhi is the ultimate solution to all violence & hate in mindsets that we are facing worldwide,” Sisodia said in his tweet.
Why the ‘happiness class’ initiative of the Delhi government attracted dignitaries and got appreciations from them. Let us try to understand the “happiness curriculum” introduced in the Delhi government schools.
The ‘Happiness Curriculum’ was launched in 2018 by the Dalai Lama at an event attended by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. At the launch, the Dalai Lama had said, “Modern education focusses on material values and has nothing to offer regarding inner peace. Only India has the ability to combine modern education with ancient knowledge which is necessary for fulfillment of human emotions.” He added that India can become the modern Guru by reviving its ancient knowledge and combining it with modern education.
The happiness curriculum is being taught to the students from nursery up to class 8 of all the Delhi government schools. As part of the programme, students are taught various activities, including meditation, street plays, basic obedience and aims to reduce anxiety and stress levels among children.
The curriculum involves a daily 45-minute happiness class beginning with mindfulness, followed by a story-telling and activities session. As the class starts, the students are given five minutes to settle down and pay attention to the happenings around them. A set of stories and innovative activities form part of the curriculum to train the children to think logically and creatively and understand their role in the social system and nature.
The ‘Happiness Curriculum’ – focuses on activity-based learning, value education and mental exercises. One such activity is titled ‘Gratitude Wall’ and is aimed at making students understand the importance of thanking others. Under this activity, students are asked to write a few lines expressing gratitude to their family members who have helped them in some way on that day.
As per the curriculum, students won’t need to worry about marks or written examinations for the course. However, the entire focus will be directly on monitoring and observing the status of happiness in the life of child.
The curriculum document states, “The day-to-day behaviour of the children, their communication content and process, and thinking abilities will be observed on a weekly and a monthly basis in a dairy to be maintained by the teacher. The teacher will also update the same in an online module.”
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had in 2018 said that the launch of the happiness course is the first step towards overhauling the entire curriculum. “The current education system focuses on making students mug lessons and write exams. I don’t think it focuses on making good human beings,” he had said.