Teaching Students Happiness and Innovation

03/23/2015 10:47 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2015


It is quite rare that I devour a book in less than two days. It's just not my style, and my time is limited -- there aren't many interruptions that can grab my attention and hold on to it tightly. Despite this, I was transfixed recently by Teaching Happiness and Innovation, a book that I was compelled to read from cover to cover as quickly as possible.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation is efficiently written, sweet, humorous, and packed with valuable ideas that will transform our classrooms and childhood in general. Written by Mike Ferry, a veteran middle school teacher and parent of four kids, Ferry argues that we should teach children skills that will improve their mental well-being. Relying on recent evidence from the science of happiness, Ferry shows how we can train our brains to become more grateful, in addition to a host of other characteristics. Happy kids will be more successful in school, and will duplicate this performance as they graduate to the real world.

Ferry also stresses the importance of teaching creativity, which he says can be developed over time. His book explains where creativity comes from and contains more than a dozen exercises that we can put into practice to hone our creative skills. In fact, I'm using one of his creativity-encouraging ideas with my college students at the moment, and they are loving it!

As educators and parents, we know that our kids will create the future. What skills should they be learning at school and at home to help them along the way? Ferry offers new ways of thinking about parenting and education and the values our children need to attain. He discusses the importance of perseverance, gratitude, creativity, collaboration, and many other characteristics while offering suggestions to help kids develop them.

By reading Teaching Happiness and Innovation, I came away with a strengthened sense of purpose regarding our educational system. We have to change the status quo, as so many of us know firsthand. The task is daunting. Yet, Ferry is pointing the way forward in a way that makes this revolution appear both optimistic and within our grasp. By teaching the habits of happiness and innovation, we will create a future that is safer, more prosperous, and more sustainable.