Create happier students, by design

Riverbend School, outside Chennai, India, shows how schools can prioritize happiness over grades through smarter design.

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_ Riverbend School, outside Chennai, India, is designed around maximizing student happiness.
_ The design draws on the longest-running study of happiness, from Harvard University.
_ The school includes a Zen garden, on-campus farm, lakeside meditation, and more.

When we talk about living “a good life,” research suggests we’re really talking about our relationships.

According to the longest-running study on happiness, the best predictor of well-being isn’t money or fame. It’s the strength of your connections to other people.

That’s the story of Riverbend School, a boarding school outside Chennai, India, where success isn’t measured based on grades or test scores but by students’ physical and mental health.

“There would be researchers who are looking at the school’s teaching practices, and reporting on those, send this out to the global educational community, let them learn from us taking the risks and constantly trying and experimenting different ways of teaching and learning,” Kurani founder, Danish Kurani, told NowThis News.

Riverbend School comes equipped with a Zen garden, an on-campus farm, a lake with a meditation deck, wayfinding paths for calmness, and a variety of learning spaces. These include makerspaces, recording booths, art galleries, and design studios.

Riverbend’s design also combats feelings of loneliness and isolation, two problems students often face. In 2019, a survey of more than 40,000 high-school students found only 40% of students felt like a part of their school.

At Riverbend, the combination of no straight lines (and thus, no isolating corners) and a village-like layout promote greater belonging. Students can feel less like they’re students, and more like they’re members of a community.

Check out Danish discussing the full design below:

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