Link between schools and happiness

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Sir,

As Marie Lindsay, Principal of St Mary’s College, suggests (DJ, 28th February), ours is a city with a particular history of seeking “civil rights, social justice and equality” and that should mean that our schools should be different to those in other places.

Derry is not just the same as other cities. No city in these islands has experienced the deep poverty and alienation from society to our extent.

There are lessons to be learned from our past. Some of those lessons are at the core of Christian faith, the sole purpose of which is in my view to enable each of us to find happiness in this life, not the next. Happiness is a crucial goal for children and that should not be forgotten when the deckchairs are metaphorically being re-arranged.

When Jesus stated that “he who is the least among you is the one who is great” (Lk 9: 48), he was asking us to honour the “lowly” rather than the “royalty”.

In elitist schools the “great” are often those who rise to the heights, not the lowly, and what we may find is that this comparing themselves to the better off leads to much unhappiness in the lives of children which may go on to affect the remainder of their lives.

Contentedness is not a trivial matter. I have yet to meet an unhappy person with a single moral, ethic, principle or value that mattered to them.

Christian faith has no relevance to unhappy people, whereas happy people tend to live true to the faith.

Yours faithfully,

John O’Connell,

Derry