Happiness lessons 'rubbish'

Richard Cairns, who succeeded Dr Seldon at Brighton College, used his speech at the college's annual conference - one of Dr Seldon's innovations - to criticise his predecessor's scheme.

Mr Cairns said syllabuses had been dumbed down because of a national obsession with making lessons fun. Any teacher who tried to enforce rigorous academic standards was regarded with hostility. "And it's all a bit disturbing for those who think children should be untroubled by such things, taught only that they have a right to happiness, even taught to be happy," he said. "Yes, there is a lunatic fringe even in the independent sector."

Mr Cairns said later: "I want children to find intellectual and social fulfilment but it is not a guarantee of happiness. I cannot possibly imagine myself trying to sell them this nirvana, this utopian world that seems to be suggested."

Dr Seldon, who moved to Wellington after nine years at Brighton College, said he would teach lessons in happiness to redress the balance between academic and emotional intelligence at the school. He declined to respond directly to the criticism, saying that would be "invidious", but reiterated his view that "education is about much more than the subjects that you learn".

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