What’s Right with Our Schools: Symposium on Happiness

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Students these days can face a lot of pressure from a variety of places. Finding ways to manage their mental health and feel happier is key. Notre Dame High School is helping them do just that in tonight’s What’s Right with Our Schools.

Connie McNamara is the Social Studies Chair at Notre Dame High School. She says, “This is the Symposium on happiness. This is an event that we hold annually as part of our science of Happiness class. And in that class, students take about 10 weeks to learn how to be happy according to psychological research.”

Grace Wiver, a junior at Notre Dame High School said, “So, our research project was to see whether or not a teacher (telling a class that a pop quiz was easy or a teacher telling a class that the same quiz was going to be very difficult) would change the students perceived difficulty level in their test scores, and we actually found that it did.”

“So, right now in today’s academic environment, kids are struggling with anxiety. They’re struggling with depression. They don’t have great coping skills and a lot of times they’re turning to social media to find out how to be happy. And that information is not great. So, the purpose of this class is to teach students scientifically valid and proven ways to enhance their happiness,” McNamara said.

One student explained his project and said, “We gave one AP site class cookies, and the other one we didn’t. And we found that there was a big gap in the one we gave cookies, because they were way more attentive and happier.”

“We follow a model called the Perma model by Dr Martin Seligman and that’s what we do the first part of the class. Then the second part of the class we focus on the science part of happiness, and the kids actually choose a topic in which they’re interested; something that we’ve studied throughout this semester. They do some research so on their own and then they actually design a study conduct the study analyze the research, and they present the results to the rest of the student body here,” Social Studies Chair McNamara said.

Senior at Notre Dame Sam Smith said, “After taking this class and really like some of the things that stuck with me are just like savoring the moment and making relationships with people. And just getting out of my comfort zone are some of the things that have helped me. And I think I’ve kind of branched out of my little bubble. And I think that like even just talking to strangers when I go out, and just meeting new people and experiencing things with others. And I’ve just seen growth in myself to be a happier person.”

Wiver stated, “I actually find that I’m happier because Dr McNamara has given these us these amazing techniques to use, and even though there have been with junior year, lots of homework and exams that kind of thing and many stressful events that have gone on in my own personal life. I’ve been able to use these to kind of take the stress down and distract myself from that.”

McNamara explains, “So, my hope is to teach kids concrete things that they can do every single day to enhance their happiness and their psychological well-being.”

Categories: What’s Right With Our Schools