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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Pupils to have a key to happiness
Man laughing
Pupils will be taught how to channel their emotions
Learning how to take the rough with the smooth and be happy with your lot is to be part of the curriculum at one of England's public schools.

Teachers at Wellington College in Berkshire will be coached in positive psychology to tutor well-being.

They will be overseen by Cambridge University psychologist Nick Baylis who wants pupils to focus both positive and "painful" emotions constructively.

College head Anthony Seldon said he saw it as a vital part of their education.

'Happy and secure'

He said: "To me, the most important job of any school is to turn out young men and women who are happy and secure - more important than the latest bulletin from the Department for Education about whatever."

Dr Seldon said there would be one lesson a week for pupils, aged 14 to 16, in years 10 and 11.

The classes will offer skills on how to manage relationships, physical and mental health, negative emotions and how to achieve ambitions.

Anthony Seldon
Our children need to know that as societies become richer, they don't become happier

They will be taught by the college's religious education staff, headed by Ian Morris.

Dr Seldon, a Christian, said the lessons would complement rather than replace religion.

He said: "Celebrity, money and possessions are too often the touchstones for teenagers and yet these are not where happiness lies.

"Our children need to know that as societies become richer, they don't become happier - a fact regularly shown by social science research."

Dr Baylis has studied the lives of successful people to formulate his theory.

He said: "When it comes to happiness and pleasure I'd want to help students appreciate that there are helpful and unhelpful ways of feeling good.

'Quick-fix'

"For instance, setting out to consume pleasure through too much alcohol, sweets and TV, might bring us quick-fix feelings, but these effects will very quickly wear off and leave us feeling worse than when we started.

"By contrast, when we engage our own skills and efforts in something, perhaps by a little volunteering or playing sport or learning a challenging task, we actively create the sorts of positive feelings that can reverberate far more deeply for days after."

The programme will also examine how to constructively channel emotional pain such as frustration, fear, loneliness and shame.

"The essence of this principle is that it's not what happens to us that is the making and the measure of us, it's what we positively do about it," said Dr Baylis.




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