3 March 2017
Recently I spoke to a teacher who has just returned from spending her entire Christmas break working as a volunteer teacher in a small town on the Burmese border. She spoke of the abject poverty and dirt in the town, but what made the biggest impression on her was the respect and gratitude that the students in her very cramped classroom displayed each and every day. They had so little, but they were so grateful for the opportunity to get an education that they disregarded the conditions of their learning and just savoured the opportunity to learn.
I often speak to students about the importance and benefits of being grateful. One of the topics that I have touched on is the acknowledgement of awesome things in the world around us. It is so easy to go through a day without noticing the little things; the smell of rain on a dusty road, the tear on a baby’s eyelash, the love of a pet dog. When we take time out to notice and appreciate these things – smell the roses if you like – our world becomes a better place. One of my favourite websites is called 1000 Awesome Things, it can be a great source of inspiration and can bring a smile to the most hardened hearts. Some of the examples of awesome things that it lists are: seeing wildlife when you’re not expecting it; getting the eyelash out of your eye; picking up a q and u at the same time in scrabble; and (I love this one) intergenerational dancing. Silly I know, but just reading them and thinking, ‘that’s good’, can make you feel warm inside and grateful for the smallest things. Things that we take for granted. You can find it here http://1000awesomethings.com/
Robert A. Emmons in his book Thanks! How practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (2007), defines gratitude as ‘the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life . . . and recognising that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self’. It is well documented that a person’s sense of wellbeing can be closely linked to their sense of gratitude and even more so if a person takes time out every day to write just one or two things for which they are grateful. It is therefore worth encouraging our daughters to take notice of the world around them and frequently (daily if possible) write or sketch something for which they are grateful – be it a bowl of breakfast cereal or a banquet at a restaurant, an iPad or a pen, a parent or Senior Resident . . . If they do this in a special book meant specifically for this purpose, it could become something that they may look at in years to come with appreciation.
Gratitude is a skill that needs to be practised, Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement, explains:
We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyse bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savouring what went well.
For sound evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analysing bad events. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for disaster, did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practise this skill of thinking about what went well.
Emmons, R.A. (2007), Thanks! How Practising Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Houghton Mifflin Company, USA
Teaching staff going on leave
As we approach the end of term, it is timely to inform you of some temporary staff absences over the next few terms due to staff on Long Service or Maternity Leave. All of this leave has been planned and arrangements made well in advance to ensure the least disruption to student learning.
- Mr John Farmer
- Ms Sue Contarini
- Mrs Sharon Gilbert
- Ms Kathy O’Brien
- Ms Crystal Hede (Maternity Leave for the remainder of 2017)
- Ms Sue Contarini
- Ms Kathy O’Brien
- Ms Cathy Waters
- Ms Pauline Gehrmann
Ms Tonia Gloudemans will provide you with more details regarding staff in acting leadership positions within the next few weeks.
Mrs Kim Cohen