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How Happiness Contributes to Better Learning
One of the biggest disruptors to learning is feeling sad or burdened when facing a challenging task.
When students feel anxious or uneasy in their environment, learning takes a backseat to merely coping. If a student is teased by another student or made to feel unhappy, they cannot be expected to retain new learning.
But if we look at a different scenario, where there is harmony with the people and things in the learning environment, where students feel safe, valued, and a part of the group — a learning community — everything changes.
Research shows us that the opposite of the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ response, is a willingness to be vulnerable, to be relaxed and open to new ideas. In this scenario students are comfortable receiving guidance from others, whether other students or teachers.
When a student is happily engaged, they are willing to do difficult things, to take risks, to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions. Interest, happiness, joy, and desire are the emotions experienced.
Regrettably, the focus on standardized testing has gravitated many public schools so very far away from whole-child teaching and learning that much less time is spent on social-emotional, behavioral activities. This is what’s needed to create and sustain an inviting and engaging classroom environment. To engage students in deeper learning, where their thinking is really challenged, there exists a mix of willingness and curiosity.
When students experience positive emotions, they perceive more options available to them and have greater insight; they collaborate better and generally perform better, as well.
At Yorktown Education we cultivate a safe and harmonious learning environment that invites vulnerability and genuine inquiry. We work together to ensure students feel emotionally and intellectually safe in the classroom.
Group dynamics can be awkward for some students. The worry of being liked or seen as less than others. When creating guidelines for a project or for classroom behavior, students benefit by making suggestions and having a say.
Along with classroom rules and procedures, students must know the things that are non-negotiables, such as name-calling, which would earn an immediate removal from the classroom or a visit to the dean.
When students see their work displayed, it is an immediate ‘happiness’ experience. When displays of essays, poems, projects, and exams dominate the walls, there is a sense of belonging for the students in the room. When they look around and see their own writing and thinking, they certainly experience a higher level of comfort than if they see store-bought posters. However, if informational posters are needed, students can create their own and provide much more originality.
A happy, productive classroom is one where hearts and minds are in sync and being yourself is easy and comfortable. That’s the learning environment we maintain at Yorktown Education, so that every student can learn and smile as they journey toward discovering what they love to do most.
Schedule a tour at Yorktown Education and meet the staff, sit in on a class, and see for yourself how happiness contributes to better learning today and for a lifetime.