What exactly is happiness? 

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40 hours) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation.

 

Contributors: mathematicians

 

Objectives:
Although it is not necessarily useful to measure everything, over recent years it has become increasingly common to see subjects such as love or solidarity addressed using a mathematical approach (with results that sometimes spark debate). This project aims to teach students how to construct the set of operations that will enable them to quantify for themselves the state of happiness.

Workshops:
The Figure “I”
The contributors present their “tools” to the students: models, probabilities, statistics and forecasts; introductory examples are used to illustrate how to make calculations based on opinion surveys. By multiplying the exercises, the students retrace the presence of maths in the running of our society, including in unusual sectors: the class examines current experiments conducted for topics such as sport, queues, animal migration and so on.

Representative Samples
Who talks about happiness? The students and contributor bring together different studies: philosophy, economics, biology, etc. They address the notions of the “World Happiness Index” and “Gross National Happiness”, and learn of the indicators chosen to measure them (growth, culture, the economy). With the help of a sociologist, the students draw up a survey protocol for parents and students: forty questions that will enable them to define the happiness of each participant.

The Pursuit of Happiness
The information in the questionnaire is then registered in Excel. The students discover how difficult this operation is – how do you encode an answer? – But they also learn how to translate the answers into figures so that averages, deviations and above all trends for the target groups emerge. Analyses in the strictest sense of the word are then carried out (progression curve, trend bar, range grouping). The students then provide a commentary. 

 

Drawings: JACQUES FLORET

What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?
What exactly is happiness?