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The Importance of Gratitude in Education

Conrad Hughes, Education Advisory Board Member

The Importance of Gratitude in Education by Conrad Hughes

When we go to school and university, it is not just to learn a dry set of technical skills and knowledge, we are also learning to develop attitudes and dispositions. At the end of the day, it is the way we work with other people, the approaches to situations and challenges that we take and the lifeworthy competences we develop that will predict future human flourishing.

A core attitude to develop is gratitude. Think about it, if you are grateful for what you have, grateful for the people around you, not only will it lead to more happiness, but it will also mean that your interactions are kinder and more generous. When we appreciate another person, we shine our light towards them, we lift them up.

Teaching gratitude is subtle, it’s not something that can be done in a stand-alone “gratitude” class or any such contrived manner, it should be integrated into the messaging that students receive from their teachers and leaders, and perhaps even more importantly, through the modelling of behaviours. By being compassionate, and kind, by seeing the good side in other people, and by showing gratitude actively and openly, educators are showing students how they might behave with each other for a more joyous, connected society where we can work together in partnerships towards important goals, the most essential and immediate being linked to the sustainability of our planet.

A sure starting point for school and university leaders is to show gratitude for faculty, to make sure that they understand that they are appreciated and that their work is acknowledged and celebrated. If leaders show gratitude for the excellent work that teachers do online and in the classroom every day, it will lift their spirits and push them to show more gratitude for their students and the efforts they put into their learning. A virtuous cycle of gratitude can only be positive.