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‘‘I have become more resilient and positive as a person. I learnt that it is okay and crucial to stop and breathe whenever things are going too fast. Moreover, I have gotten so much closer to my classmates.’’
Written by: Allen Yong, 18/03/2022
What do you want most for your children?
Are your answers happiness? Kindness? Health? Contentment? Confidence? If so, you are not alone. These are common answers from hundreds of parents asked (Seligman et al., 2009).
What do schools teach?
If you are like the many parents, you would have responded ‘Skills’, ‘Achievement’, ‘Thinking Skills’, ‘Success’, ‘Literacy’, ‘Mathematics’ and the like. In Seligman et al. (2009)’s paper, it was emphasised that there is no overlap between these two lists.
Common education system has long focused on accomplishments, hard work and success. Often, institutions neglect the core wellbeing of the students as they strive and compete towards maximal grades. This becomes more prevalent when students go into the professional world. In 2021, 52% of employees in the hospitality and food services industry who have resigned are due to burnout (Limeade, 2021).
Ferrières, the French School of Excellence recognises the importance of student wellbeing and places it at its core of education. As the first hospitality management school to develop its courses around the concept of positive education, graduates from Ferrières would naturally become outstanding individuals with wellbeing uncompromised when they enter the professional world.
‘‘I have learned the importance of generosity. At the same time, it is quite surprising to learn that we should be selfish sometimes, but I understand why. Since the conference, I have been counting my blessings every day.’’
Ferrières’ systemic approach, called My Wellbeing Project integrates the principles of positive psychology in every aspect of the management of the school, both in administration and academic. This is achieved under the umbrella of a whole school positive education approach. Students’ wellbeing is observed and developed throughout their academic journey with us, from as early as admission when they can start identifying their strengths and as students of Ferrières, they can expect a path of leadership and essential soft skills workshops created for them and facilitated by a coach expert in Applied Positive Psychology. Every month, conferences are held, and they aim to develop understanding of oneself, strengths of character, moving from a biased state of mind, optimism and taking care of oneself. Examples include mindfulness, mindful eating, anger management, generosity and much more.
During an interview with a student a week after a conference, he said ‘‘I have learned the importance of generosity. At the same time, it is quite surprising to learn that we should be selfish sometimes, but I understand why. Since the conference, I have been counting my blessings every day.’’
In Ferrières, students from Year 1 to Year 5 also study their lifeline, wheel of life, VIA, DISC and discover the LIFE Model (Lomas, 2014). The aim is to identify their values and start to orient their professional and personal projects in adequation with their essence and character.
‘‘It was a very enriching day indeed. I realised that nothing is impossible as long as we have the right mindset and methodology. I have become more confident and calmer towards facing everyday challenges.’’
Inspired from corporate assessment centres, Ferrières has its very own Development Centre. Students go through 1 to 3 days of intense yet fruitful activities that are strategized to develop students to their fullest potential in various aspects. These activities like ‘Through the Wall’ and ‘Blindfolded Beam-Crossing’ aim to develop students’ communication skills, leadership, focus, patience, creativity and other soft skills. Throughout the days, students will be observed by assessors who record and evaluate each candidate. These assessors comprise of academics, hospitality professionals and coaches. At the end of the Development Centre, students are each given feedbacks from at least 2 assessors on their performance and recommended on areas of strengths on which they can build a flourishing future.
When asked on how they felt about the Development Centre, a 23-years old student answered ‘‘It was a very enriching day indeed. I realised that nothing is impossible as long as we have the right mindset and methodology. I have become more confident and calmer towards facing everyday challenges.’’ Indeed, through physically challenging activities led by industrial professional coaches, students are challenged and taught universal skills to handle stresses and challenges.
Another student mentioned ‘‘I have become more resilient and positive as a person. I learnt that it is okay and crucial to stop and breathe whenever things are going too fast. Moreover, I have gotten so much closer to my classmates.’’
My Wellbeing Project takes a wholesome approach, and it includes the wellbeing of all staff as well. To ensure inclusivity to achieve the common goal of the project, online training is provided to all teaching staff, even for guest speakers who are coming for 1 session only.
Moving forward, Ferrières aims to do a scientific study to measure the impact of our project on the physical and psychological well-being of our students and even after they venture into the professional world. This long-term study aims to evaluate our approach and bring valuable insights for the betterment of the hospitality industry.