Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Schools

My Dad used to say...I know what everyone wants in life...Happiness. And each one of us gets Happiness through different things. Someone gets it from work, some from leisure. Some from music, some from sports. But the truth is that everyone wants happiness. Its unfortunate for us that some people in this world get happiness out of violence.

Anyhow, Happiness is a very much sought after thing. In the development world, though the discourse has primarily been around 'well-being' rather than 'happiness' for the simple reason that it is very difficult to objectify or perhaps quantify happiness.  Bhutan  as a nation has been grappling with the concept of Gross Happiness Index and has set parameters for it but its yet to establish itself as a credible index.

All said and done, one cannot deny the fact that the moment you hear the word 'Happy', there is a smile on your face. I happened to be at a seminar yesterday and there was a seminar going on in the next room called the Happiness Seminar. People were all cheerful and happy.

Its for this reason that when I first heard that UNESCO Bangkok office has started something called the Happy Schools Project, there was a smile on my face and I was interested immediately. Forget well being...I want be happy"- thats what a child would perhaps say. Thats the precise reason, I like that its called the Happy Schools Project rather than another serious educational terminology.

They are doing a survey to find out what a happy school is for you...which is a good thing...its participatory. You can take the survey here and its in different languages as well:

http://www.unescobkk.org/news/article/how-can-we-make-schools-happier-places-you-tell-us/

I was happy to find an option of a 'student' in the survey options. Despite the fact that everybody talks about a child centric education, everybody forgets to listen to children... what do they want.  I have been a strong protagonist of participatory learning and execution processes and have advocated a lot about participatory curriculum making, where children make their curriculum. I would be really happy if this project takes a participatory approach.

I was just posting about this survey on facebook and what I wrote on my status is...what does a Happy school look and feel like. If I were to take a cue from there...thats the first question which comes to mind. A survey may then be a limiting exercise. It should be extended perhaps to a drawing competition or a essay competition amongst children to draw what a happy schools looks like. What does a child in Vietnam imagine a happy school to be? What does he see children and teachers doing in it.? It will be good to compare the paintings drawn in Vietnam, Mongolia, India or any other place.

Every school should be asked to do an exercise with children in a participatory manner and send a report of what the school children envisage or imagine a happy school to be. It could be a Happy Schools Report.

It could be an interesting exercise in listening to the imaginations of children across the world.

Let the children create this project and let it be child led. After all...whom are these Happy Schools for...and whose happiness are we talking about? 

1 comment:

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