It’s not just in the UK – teaching happiness in Germany

It’s not just in the UK – teaching happiness in Germany

From the Fringe (,2144,2781427,00.html)


Teaching Happiness to German Students

Happiness might be a highly subjective notion, but teachers at one German high school seem to think that it’s actually a subject that can be taught — and graded.

Depending on which study you trust, the world’s happiest people live in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, Bangladesh or Denmark. Germany, however, never makes it anywhere near the top of any such list. The country’s inhabitants have after all turned moaning and complaining in a national pastime that’s probably best practiced by those living in and around Berlin.

Southern Germans seem to find it rather difficult to truly exceed at whining. That’s why it’s a bit strange that a school in beautiful, picturesque Heidelberg has now become the first one to take on the challenge of turning Germans into happier people.

At one of the city’s high schools, some 60 students have started attending classes in happiness.

“We want to teach contentment, self-confidence and personal responsibility,” the school’s director, Ernst Fritz-Schubert, told reporters, adding that often all that’s needed is a change of perspective: Instead of saying: “I am lazy,” students should switch to “I’m thinking about myself.”

The course’s lesson plan includes classes on “physical comfort” and ‘social competence” and aims to make students aware about themselves, their environment and society as a whole. An actor and a relaxation therapist will also participate in some of the lesson units.

This wouldn’t be Germany, however, if students’ results weren’t quantified, and grades will be issued in the happy class. Admittedly, there are two advantages to that: For one thing, “happiness” might help to improve the grade average on people’s high school diplomas. And secondly, just in case they’re not that great at being happy, they’ll get something to complain about.