“The Best of You” movement
Contributor: Fann Ng. Head of Department/ Character and Citizenship Education. Clementi Town Secondary School
Gratitude is the positive emotion one feels when another person has intentionally given, or attempted to give, one something of value (McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmomns, & Larson, 2001; McCullough & Tsang, 2004). In Frederickson’s broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions broaden people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and build enduring personal resources which lead to the cultivation of resilience. In addition, gratitude nurtures social relationships through encouraging reciprocity. Such pro-social behaviour seeks to support partnership and starts social changes at a personal level. The effect of gratitude through reciprocity norms hence result in a more caring society.
In Clementi Town Secondary, we introduce a new school value “empathy” through a gratitude exercise. We believe that students can experience putting themselves in others’ shoes if they can show appreciation to the people they are grateful for. The school collaborated with “The Best of You” movement whose mission was to inspire more appreciation, gratitude, and compassion as the people behind the movement noted that these are the key ingredients to happiness.
As the movement focusses on appreciation for migrant workers this year, a skit on the work they do and how they contributed to Singapore was staged during an assembly. The students were surprised at the difficulties the migrant workers go through just to get to Singapore although they knew the hard work they put in building our houses or paving our roads and even the discrimination some of them face. The exhibition after the skit featured videos and interviews of the migrant workers helped students to appreciate them further. However, it did not occur to them they could thank these unsung heroes. During the Character and Citizenship Education lesson on the same day, postcards were distributed to every staff and student for them to thank the people they appreciate in their lives. The school collected more than 1000 cards and sent back to the movement. On these cards were words of gratitude, stories of kindness and inspirations for relationship-building.
Like “The Best of You” movement, we hope to continue inspiring gratitude and encouraging positive emotions in Clementi Town Secondary School through continued efforts in positive education. These small but significant steps are paving ways to student well-being and pro-social behaviour in our community.