London, June 23 : Loving and caring attitude instilled in students through "happiness lessons" in schools is not what is going to generate first-rate performance in exams, according to academics, who say that it's the mental toughness that makes the pupils to come out with flying colours.
The academics advocate that instilling a robust attitude among students can give a boost to their exam performance, behaviour and aspirations, and students can be taught to develop such an attitude.
Peter Clough, head of psychology at the University of Hull said that kids who are mentally tough would not consider themselves of bullying and would be least bothered by initial failure.
Clough, whose sports-psychology-based ideas are being used in industry, is collaborating with AQR, a psychometric-testing company to conduct a long-term study of children for evaluating their mental toughness.
In fact, he has also claimed that it is possible to transform performance in kids through a simple test and applying follow-up techniques.
"We know that students with higher levels of mental toughness perform better in exams. They are also less likely to perceive themselves as being bullied and are more likely to behave more positively. We also know that by using a variety of techniques - many of them very simple - we can increase an individual's level of mental toughness," Times Online quoted him, as saying.
Currently working with 181 pupils aged 11 and 12 at All Saints Catholic High School in Knowsley, Merseyside, Clough is helping these kids to become mentally tough and is hoping that his approach will "open doors of opportunities that they would not previously have considered".
In fact, the intervention techniques are also being shown to parents and teachers.
Dr Clough said: "There is no point in working with pupils who then go into a classroom environment where nobody understands the process, and home to parents who have no interest. Showing the teachers how the techniques work means that the benefits that pupils are getting from this study can be repeated year after year."
Firstly, the researchers found out the levels of resilience and emotional sensitivity of pupils using a questionnaire and then zeroed on 40 pupils with low scores. Now, they are making use of techniques to improve their rating, such as visualisation, anxiety control and relaxation, and also improving their attention span and setting goals.
According to Clough, he has helped kids to set realistic goals and used rapidly working techniques, like imagining scenarios and random-number tests forcing them to concentrate.
He said: "Really concentrating is a skill a lot of them have never had. We try to get them to realise they are in control of their lives and need to stick a foot in the door when they get the opportunity. No one else is going to make that decision.
"They don't recognise that people who are successful sometimes have less ability but more drive. They are drawn to a 'shortcut culture' of instant success and dream of winning The X Factor, but don't see that you need to practise before auditions."
On his opinion on happiness lessons, which aim to boost self-esteem, Dr Clough said: "All the positive thinking in the world isn't going to make a third look like a 2:1."