Sunday, February 20, 2011

De-prioritized at this time.

resilient |riˈzilyənt|
able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

I have come up with a big idea. It may not be original, but I think it may become my life’s work.

Lightning struck last week as the School Council discussed our new School Improvement Plan.

Excerpt from the recent School Improvement Plan:

Identify resiliency skills (such as ability to handle disappointment, stress, change, etc.) in order to develop and incorporate teaching strategies related to building resiliency in students

De-prioritized at this time.

It took me a second for this to sink in. Our school and schools in general do not teach kids to deal with adversity. In the same week that our community was once again devastated by the loss of a high school student, whom tragically took his own life, we “de-prioritized” our aspirations to teach kids how to cope with adversity.

Think about how essential resilience is to learning and living. If you had to choose only one set of skills to teach, wouldn’t “resiliency skills (such as ability to handle disappointment, stress, change, etc.)….” make the top two or three on your list?

Now think about this:

We largely ignore this skill set, we do not have curriculum or pedagogy that addresses these skills directly in public schools.

Schools are not alone. Well meaning parents do not allow their children to be exposed to adversity. If I had to prescribe a single set of skills that could improve our learning, our health, our community, and even our nation, it would include a thoughtful approach to building our capacity for becoming resilient.

There are a few models out there that touch on these skills, such as Outward Bound and similar experiential learning schools. However, there is nothing that reaches into early childhood and primary grades that can meaningfully be applied to a public school curriculum.

Imagine building a curriculum and a culture around Resilient Learners.

We can do this, we can teach children to strive, and to understand that a great deal of success is predicated upon how well you cope with adversity.

The evolution of this idea I think warrants a separate blog. One dedicated to Teaching and Parenting rather than stories dear to my heart. In truth, I wish I could spend the next year researching and developing this idea in order to bring it back into the school system. I don’t have those kind of resources. Blogging maybe a good start.

I’d love feedback on this one- plus a catchy new title for a teaching Blog

Next up: What our Heroes know about Resiliency.


  1. Hi Corey,
    I would categorize resiliency as a nautural byproduct of a well grounded person, more than a skill to be taught. I have the distinct feeling that the more someone is comfortable in their skin the more they have access to emotional stability. I think that emotional stability, in turn, simply makes one aware of more choices in many situations and perhaps less when the best choice is clearly one. Logically then, a loving environment which encourages lots of creativity should lead to a natural sense of resiliency.
    Honestly though, I know I can see it in a few kids I run into, but just a few. And the two definitely go hand in hand for me. Do you see the same thing?
    All for now,

  2. @Jackie, I think you're on to something. Rather than teach a set of skills-create an environment and a cultural that allows the possibility for people to become resilient?