Children’s Happiness

At Effervescent, we’re interested in happiness and how cultural products and interventions can change people’s inner worlds on short and long-term timescales.


So we wanted to draw your attention to a short and accessible piece of work which has recently been published by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan, in collaboration with Ofsted.  You can find a copy here :


It’s interesting; he worked collaboratively with vulnerable children to create a tick list of twenty weighted statements such as


I learn from my mistakes

I have lots of friends

I have big problems but I’m dealing with them


which can be used with children to get a sense of how happy they are at that moment.


I would say that it’s absolutely crying out for an app, as the adding up of the weightings and the scale applied are quite a statistical wrangle for anyone not comfortable with numbers, or with fat fingers and a small calculator (like me), involving adding up 3 digit numbers then dividing them by the number of questions agreed with: the happiest anyone can score is 4.25, the most miserable you can be is 1.68!


However, short of getting into clinical scales of depression, I think it’s quite a portable and useful measure of happiness and self-esteem/self-worth, which we will be recommending to arts orgs/practitioners.  I find it really challenging when I read reports which tell me a brief cultural intervention raised the children’s self-esteem and happiness with no actual data source to back this up and no real locus of meaning against which “happiness” has been posited.


One note of caution – Dr Morgan himself notes a painful truth here, that children found it easy to be clear about indicators of sadness, but thoughts on indicators of happiness were much harder for these vulnerable children to pin down.  Rather than a happiness scale, what this might actually be, is a sadness scale…

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