The most popular, wildly popular, course at Yale is a psychology course run by Prof. Laurie Santos. Prof. Santos, in mid-semester, told her students that her hour and a quarter session was on no account to be used for work and study, but should be used for relaxation and enjoyment. Stop worrying about grades if only for an hour, she told her 1200(!) students. Her message is one of putting happiness first and money-making last, to live joyful and meaningful lives.
Santos designed the course after hearing about the stressed out and unhappy students, in contrast to the time she was at university. National statistics show that nearly a half of all college students are experiencing overwhelming anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. They feel they have to be working non-stop, unable to enjoy other things their colleges have to offer. No doubt the debt hanging over their heads doesn’t help, nor the apparent demand for high grades from potential employers.
The idea of a liberal arts education is to learn, explore, sort out what is important in life, get an insight into ones capabilities and inabilities; to learn lateral thinking and how to express yourself well, even to do so in an amusing manner. One cannot do all this if you lead a frenetic life based on what well-paid job you can go straight into on graduation.
Bravo, Dr. Santos, and your happiness class. (Adapted from a Washington Post article by Susan Svfuga, May 13,2018)