“Open Happiness.” “Comfort in every bar.” “Every dinner should feel this good.”
Our highest priority at BICS is to inspire our students to be lifelong learners.
BICS helps students develop literacy, critical thinking and social skills to increase their capacity as learners and prepare them to make the most of a lifetime of learning opportunities. These skills, or competencies, have been articulated in the Core Competencies of BC’s New Curriculum. Beyond having a highly developed capacity to learn, however, to encourage lifelong learning, students need to love learning. It is therefore important that students are happy at school and so creating happy learning environments is something our school takes very seriously. Happy learning environments mean that students feel safe and connected with peers and adults in their classroom and school. Research shows that students learn more when they are happy and of course, happiness is an end in itself. By my calculation, students spend about 12% of their lives and 18 % of their waking hours during the time they are in school from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve.* School is a big part of life and therefore a big part of a happy life.
In addition to fostering conditions of happy learning environments, I am becoming increasingly convinced of the need to directly teach about happiness, specifically what it is and how to pursue it.
Happiness is not something that happens to us but in many ways something we choose. Convenience and consumerism are prominent features of our society and it is becoming increasingly easy for people to confuse the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of convenience; or pursue happiness through consumerism. There is no shortage of messaging – the slogans of Coca-Cola, Mars Bar and Stouffers Foods being the examples noted at the beginning of this post– implying that happiness is found in consuming an item, be it food, fashion or other items. While eating food and buying items that allow for the pursuit of hobbies can be satisfying, it is worth being clear of other ways of fostering happiness that make the world better for ourselves and others.
The organization Action for Happiness recognizes that there are external and sometimes uncontrollable factors that affect happiness but assert that happiness can often be pursued through the choices we make. Most of these choices are small and occur almost constantly so a framework that will help recognize opportunities to make choices that lead to happiness is helpful.
So what are these daily choices we can make?
Action for Happiness has broken them down into ten keys to happier living:
- Generosity – do things for others
- Relating – connect with people
- Exercising – take care of your body
- Appreciating – notice the world around you
- Trying Out – keep learning new things
- Direction – have goals to pursue
- Resilience – find ways to bounce back
- Emotion – take a positive approach
- Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning – contribute to something bigger
These ten keys align extremely well with virtues noted in the Virtues Project that our school has focused on for many years.
Over the coming months of the school year, BICS will focus on these keys so that students have a shared understanding and language that allow them to become better at noticing opportunities to increase their happiness and the happiness of others. I will write about some of these keys in more detail in future blog posts but hope that parents will also learn more from the understandings students bring home and talk about as the year progresses. “Open Happiness,” associates happy with easy. As we strive to develop capable, hard-working and inspired lifelong learners, a greater understanding of happiness is needed.
*My figures are based on 6 hours at school 180 days per year. Waking hours = 16 hours per day.