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School and Happiness


How shocked would you be to learn that school and watching television rank the same among activities that make young people most happy in life? In a survey by MTV and the Associated Press, few 13- to 24-year-olds identified school or TV (or sex or cars, for that matter) as the key to their happiness.

Maybe we should be relieved that, instead, the respondents said they are most happy spending time with family and friends, playing with pets, worshiping God, and playing sports. About half of those surveyed described at least one of their parents as a hero (5 percent gave their teacher that title), and just under half said that family time and relationships make them happier than anything else.

That's enough to spell hope for a generation that is generally painted as apathetic and detached from older folks.

The findings are mixed, however. Although a number of the respondents said that success and work were important, school and homework (and bad grades) all ranked among the things that make young people most unhappy.

I guess we should expect as much. How many teens are enthusiastic about getting up early to catch the school bus or find happiness in studying for the next science quiz?

Yet 43 percent of respondents said they are happy or somewhat happy with their schools (while 24 percent indicated they were not in school at the time of the survey).

What about the rest, though? Twenty percent expressed indifference about school, and 13 percent were unhappy or very unhappy.

How can we make schools more engaging and fulfilling for more youths? Is it important that students be happy with school?


As a parent and former school board president, it is my personal belief that when we return to the basics and instill a love for learning throughout life, motivation will come naturally. Currently, our society links test performance measures with student sucess, but its failing our children in developing of love of learning no matter what the subject matter. Teacher tenure, parental irresponsibility and global economic seem to be driving what and how our children learn to compete in society, often to our detriment. Bill Gates once told a group of high school graduates that school may have done away with grades, but society hadn't (paraphrase), and then we're angered over how we, as a society produced things like Enron. Gone are the days when we taught that God, country and our fellow man/woman ware all valuable assets to us all. Ever wonder why homelessness is up? Citizenship and ethics are what students are taught to worry about once they're caught. As for my son, I'm not looking for a perfect test taker, I'm looking to develop that great thrist for knowledge which leads to all places. After all, it's why I continued my education, the great search for knowledge and truth, only to find liberal educators bent on teaching me theories that even they couldn't apply to life. Food For Thought!

If the student was fascinated with science, there would be no need to study for the science quiz. Motivation is inherent if the subject matter is interesting enough.

This is a great discussion. I grew up in an intellectual household. My dad is a professor emeritus and my mom is a retired educational editor. I am an elementary school educator and coach. What's with us in education? My oldest daughter graduated magna cum laude in a science and is working a clerical job for just over minimum wage. My second child (with brain trauma) is making more money with a part-time mechanical job while he attends a commmunity college. What's up here? I try hard to integrate tons of technology with my 4th and 5th grade students and they are pros when they get to middle school BUT WE ARE ALL SO FAR BEHIND THE WORLD IN SCHOOL! These kids do so much more in their free time. Our tech teacher even talks about finding ways to "steal their online time." Think about it.

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Recent Comments

  • Patty Jordan: This is a great discussion. I grew up in an read more
  • Martha: If the student was fascinated with science, there would be read more
  • steven l. sias: As a parent and former school board president, it is read more




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