Slashdot pointed me to an article about a study on average math performance and average happiness in various countries. A, that’s such a broad topic and data pool that you can barely even show a correlation, let alone causality, as several Slashdot commentors have noted.
B, the conclusions the study author drew are disturbing. He believes that the study shows we are focusing too much on the happiness of the student, at the expense of learning the material. Which implies that happiness is less important than knowledge. Maybe so, and it’s certainly a popular opinion. But hardly the only one.
Shouldn’t happiness be the trait we aren’t willing to give up? Assuming there is some relationship between the two, I’d say, “Lets find new ways of teaching or applying math that do make us happy.” Not, “Let’s not bother worrying about happiness when teaching math.”