Blog - Gwyneth Evans, Principal of Bede Academy, Blyth, writes on teaching young people the value of ‘thank you’

Bede Academy

Friday, 6th October 2017

Blog - Gwyneth Evans, Principal of Bede Academy, Blyth, writes on teaching young people the value of ‘thank you’

“IT's great to be grateful”

“It’s great to be grateful”

At Bede Academy we, like many schools, have begun a year refreshed and ready to embark on serving our students: supporting, encouraging, educating in all sorts of ways. The tremendous heart and lengths in going the extra mile so that students can achieve their personal best is immeasurable. In addition, I am very conscious that in an environment where thankfulness and a grateful attitude prevails and is embedded, there is an accompanying joy, positivity and optimism. More importantly, it is the right thing to do.

The Bible says ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.’ (I Thessalonians 5 v 16 – 18). As an Academy we have so much to be thankful for and this year we are making a concerted effort to cultivate the attitude of gratefulness amongst our students. It is an endearing and beautiful quality in someone and, when practised, results powerfully reciprocal positive and affirmative emotions. Cultivating and fuelling the attitude of gratitude leads to an encouraging spirit and optimistic outlook and contributes to stronger environment.

There are times when we are reminded and impressed by individual students who display those grateful behaviours when they thank us for supporting or teaching them. Whilst we do not necessarily expect to be thanked, nevertheless, when it happens it is very encouraging. During the A level, AS level and GCSE results days there were some students whose characters shone in their expression of gratefulness to their teachers and the academy for their support and encouragement, even when they perhaps were slightly disappointed. That was a delight to experience especially as it is a recognition and endorsement of the lengths that colleagues went to with extra revision sessions on Saturdays and during the holidays, after the academy day, providing extra revision notes and so on.

Encouraging positive behaviours, such as gratitude, strengthens relationships with students: it contributes to an atmosphere of positivity, it reminds them of the bigger picture and hopefully diminishes arrogance, self-centeredness and the sense of entitlement which develops an inflated and unrealistic sense of personal need that seems to be so prevalent in modern society. Sadly, this can lead young people to expect situations and relationships of everyday life to focus on serving their needs; when they don’t, they can find it difficult to cope. That type of corrosive attitude presents itself in discontentment, bitterness, ungrateful spirit, stress over every little thing that does not go right, upset when they don’t get their own way, lack of joy, negativity …the ‘I want more’ pattern….and so it goes on. It is easy to be caught in a cycle of thoughtless inconsideration towards others. It is important to help our students to understand that individually we have a responsibility to proactively develop and choose a thankful attitude which prepares them for life.

So, not only do we have strengthened relationships, cultivating the attitude of gratitude reminds our students of terrific blessings that they have in living in this area and country, and it reminds them of the excellent education that they have at Bede Academy.

Developing the attitude of gratitude is a discipline of a habit of paying attention to and identifying the blessings around us from which arises a deep appreciation.

G K Chesterton claimed that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

Someone else said that none is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.

As we support and encourage our students this year, let’s take time to infuse, enthuse and remind them of what they have been blessed with in their individual lives. We must encourage them to say thank you, Mr Smith or Miss Jones, and teach them that it is great to be grateful.