Are you happy? This was the question a great teacher once asked before beginning his lessons. Are you happy? What message does this question give to the budding scientist, or the aspiring artist? The fact that we care for what they feel and how they are is certainly a reassuring statement for everyone concerned.
Human happiness is of three kinds: physical, mental and spiritual. Physical happiness is based on accessibility of the necessities of life, the comfort and beauty of ones surroundings. Physical comfort is an indispensable aspect of learning. A hungry or sleepy child or one who needs one of his or her basic needs met would not be able to concentrate on learning. A well-rested child who has had an appropriate amount of food and is comfortable with his setting will have a much greater chance in learning. Beautification of the learning setting has also proven to have profound effect on increasing the learning ability of children. Natural light, bright colourful paintings, inspiring drawings, soft background music, and handcrafted decorations all contribute to a better attitude towards learning. This is why we, at Roger White Academy, pay a great deal of attention to the physical beauty of our setting.
Mental happiness could be acquired through development of a positive attitude towards life. A supportive family, a loving caregiver, a mentor or guide could all provide the bedrock for the mental happiness of a child. A sharing circle and a short period of meditation and reflection help to centre the children and prepare them for the mental challenges of learning.
The most important part of human happiness is spiritual happiness. Human reality, though manifested in a physical setting, is fundamentally spiritual. Therefore true and deep happiness could only result from the inner spiritual reality of human beings. To attain this happiness one has to know and regularly reflect on the purpose of human life. Fundamental questions of life, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am Going?”, form the very foundation of human happiness.
We engage children through learning to understand and apply virtues, which become a stabilizer for acquiring learning. The child’s learning is continuously focussed on setting realistic goals and finding the means of achieving them. The acquisition of virtues is a bridge by which children are empowered to tread the spiritual path with practical feet.
Though physical and mental happiness play significant role in learning ability and augment human capabilities, according to Harvard researcher and scholar Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in her book “Creativity”, many creative and distinguished contemporary human beings come from poor families and the challenges of physical and mental discomfort have not hindered the flow of creativity and production of praiseworthy masterpieces. She writes that: “We share 98 percent of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees. What makes us different –our language, values, artistic expression, scientific understanding, and technology- is the result of individual ingenuity that was recognized, rewarded, and transmitted through learning. Without creativity, it would be difficult indeed to distinguish humans from apes.” P. 2
This creativity is nurtured through spiritual happiness. Spiritual happiness in turn is achieved through spiritual orientation in life. A human being who knows the purpose of his or her life would have greater incentive to learn any new subject and more so if the purpose of life is an all-encompassing one, centred in service to the human race. A being possessed of such fundamentally happiness as a learner, will use her or his creativity to bring joy to others. Spiritual happiness is also acquired through understanding the oneness of humanity. With this understanding human beings will use their creativity to promote the interests of the whole human race.
At Roger White academy, children’s true happiness is a central concern for all. Children are encouraged to aspire to become active members of the human family as the foundation on which to attain their spiritual, academic, artistic and physical potential.