Meditation is just one strand of new “positive education” methods starting to build momentum and gravitas in schools. The key idea is to teach good practices such as mindfulness and gratitude that will promote resilience and, it is thought, help children lead healthier psychological lives.
Until recently, these might have been dismissed as woolly theories but with children’s happiness now in the spotlight owing to high levels of self-harm, attempted suicide and other mental health problems, they are starting to be taken more seriously.
Promoting happiness in schools isn’t new but convincing education leaders of its benefits has taken a lot longer.
Headteacher Anthony Seldon was widely criticised when he introduced the first “wellbeing curriculum” at Wellington College a decade ago. Wellbeing, it was felt, was antagonistic to academic achievement. And despite the success of the programme – Wellington soared up the league tables “quicker than any school in history” over the next nine years – Hunter reports that her colleagues were initially sceptical about her happiness programme.
– Olivia Parker