The British Government is hoping to bring about a revolution in the classroom by introducing lessons in happiness, wellbeing and good manners in all state secondary schools.
The initiative, which follows an all-embracing guide of a programme called Seal (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) in primary schools, is intended at boosting both academic performance and discipline by helping children to better understand their emotions.
AdvertisementThe adoption of "wellbeing" classes by state schools proposes that emotional intelligence has now become strongly ingrained in the educational mainstream.
Ministers are certain that teaching children to put across their feelings, manage their anger and understand other people helps improving concentration and motivation.
According to experts, the Seal system is not just beneficial for students.
Research published by the Institute of Education (IoE) into the effect of Seal in primary schools shows that it is equally helpful for teachers, as it decreases their stress levels and boosts their keenness for study.
The approach includes wellbeing assemblies and one-to-one sessions in which pupils may, for instance be told a story about a personal difference that they are then encouraged to discuss.
Susan Hallam, author of the IoE research, suggested that the Seal programme was the ideal remedy to the deep pressure imposed on schools by the testing regime and exam league tables.
"Most of the effort in recent years has been on academic work. Seal gives teachers and pupils permission to think about things that are not academic. It allows them to take time to consider how they think about themselves and others," Timesonline quoted Hallam, as saying.
Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College in Berkshire, who has led the way for wellbeing classes in the independent school sector, said the approach was based on solid evidence.
"We know much more about how to teach children to be emotionally resilient and self-reliant and to be able to manage their emotions than we did. Even ten years ago there was no empirical evidence to support this approach, but now there is," he said.
However, some experts have expressed their doubts over the benefits of the Seal system.
Frank Furedi, Professor of sociology at Kent University and author of Therapy Culture, has warned that children are at a greater risk of developing emotional problems if they are encouraged to become fixated with their emotions.
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