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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gross National Happiness (GNH)


I watched a programme tonight on BBC 2 called ‘The Happiness Formula’. It was fascinating to hear that the nation of Bhutan rate their prospective policies against how ‘happy’ it will make them as a nation, before how ‘rich’.

Which got me thinking… ought we to be assessing education policies along the same lines?

Having read through ‘A Curriculum for Excellence – progress and proposals’ I wonder if it leans more towards creating happy citizens than to growing future business workers? It is encouraging to see that in defining curricular areas ‘health and wellbeing’ comes first in the list – even before ‘language’ and ‘mathematics’, but unless we can free up our curriculum and those that manage it in schools, then we will not move far from the ‘modes’ that we presently languish in.

I think I worry that we have swallowed the notion that we are trying to create ‘productive members of society’ before ‘members of society’. A small distinction, but society needs its members to understand a sense of belonging just as much (if not more) than them being productive.

From a schools perspective, ‘belonging’ requires ‘wanting to be there’ – wanting to be there requires that it is ‘interesting’ and ‘relevant’. Relevance begins by drawing parallels with what our pupils are interested in.

Perhaps the ‘confident individuals’ that need to be addressed first are the local authority officers and senior managers in school. We need to be sending out the message that it’s ok that the pinnacle of learning is not in certification, but in social development.

When I hear of 'A Curriculum for Excellence', I also can't help but think about Bill & Ted - "Be excellent to each other". It doesn't help in the digesting of an education policy, does it?

3 Comments:

Blogger MaggieIrving said...

An unnamed American novelist once defined happiness as "knowing that you don't require happiness". Now that is what I call sophisticated thinking!

11:03 pm  
Blogger Ewan McIntosh said...

Here, here! I was asked to speak at the Royal Society of Edinburgh about how languages could be moved forward. Both Mark Pentleton and I spoke about how things must be enjoyable and engaging before we can get anywhere. Has resonance with an upcoming podcast from Marc Prensky on the MFLE, where he says that when kids are unengaged it's impossible for them to learn, but where they are engaged you can't stop them learning.

My point was also that it's down to teachers and education officers to become confident individuals in messing up their curriculum a bit (loosening up?). I thought it would go down like a lead balloon, but it hit a chord with that audience. Maybe things are not that far away from the tipping point.

Nice post, AB.

7:35 am  
Blogger marlyn moffat said...

You've read my book then? At the chalk face there really isn't a lot of languishing going on. Squashed creativity and a driven curriculum take their toll on developmentally sound ideas and good learning..So behind you all the way with....

"Perhaps the ‘confident individuals’ that need to be addressed first are the local authority officers and senior managers in
school."

I am nibbling away at it, from the root! Hope my teeth last!

8:17 pm  

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