Morning assembly in , Pushp Vihar, is no longer a staid affair. “Every morning, we play upbeat music and children come out of their classes dancing their way to the ground,” says its principal Sneh Aggarwal. “Even the style of PT has changed; we divide children into pairs and make them work out to upbeat songs while looking at each other. They look at each other, connect and giggle. The day starts on a happy note.”

The is all part of the that was introduced from nursery till Class VIII in all Delhi government schools this July.

Story sessions are also part of the activities. Children are told stories and asked questions at the end in a way that they understand the moral. In SKV’s Class VIII, the story of the day is about good company and bad company. The girls listen with rapt attention as the teacher, Shalini, narrates the tale, leaving the end open to discussion. “If a good friend falls into bad habits and starts befriending people with bad habits, will you leave them and look for other friends?” she asks, adding a twist to a straightforward ending. “No,” reply the children unanimously. “I will tell my friend that what she is doing is wrong,” answers one student.

“The teacher has the freedom to take the story in any direction,” explains Vandana Gautam, a mentor teacher given charge of Pushp Vihar’s SKV to observe and train teachers in the curriculum. “They get to judge the level of their students and manipulate an activity in any way they want to get a message across. They can even bring in their own activities. There is no concept of difficulty in this curriculum,” she says.

It’s still early days, but sessions in meditation and mindfulness are already helping reduce indiscipline and absenteeism, says Aggarwal. “I have seen a reduction in the number of complaints teachers bring to me,” she says. “Earlier they used to complain about children not concentrating in class, or not turning up with completed homework. That has reduced. Children are happier to be in school. But the real feedback will be at a PTM from parents.”

The happiness curriculum is aimed at creating more mindful and responsible citizens. The moral education and meditation encourages them to turn their focus inwards and recognise their own emotions before learning how to tackle them. It is also hoped that the activities will help the students focus on being more learning-oriented.

For kids, the meditation is also a fun exercise. They are asked to close their eyes and focus on the sounds around them, ranging from everyday classroom noises to ongoing construction in the vicinity. Later, each student is asked to list the sounds they heard while they had their eyes closed. “I could hear my breath; I could imagine it going in, it was green in colour!” says one child enthusiastically.

Aggarwal says weaker students have gained confidence, and are increasingly volunteering to speak at the morning assembly. Teachers have noticed a change too. “They have learnt to appreciate each other; we get cards from the education department regularly to be given by students to the best worker, most helpful student etc,” says Shalini, the Class VIII teacher.

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