The new education #2: Resilience

Week 2 of “What they should be teaching at school” – Resilience.

Life doesn’t always turn out how we hoped. Life isn’t always “fair”. And sometimes life just sucks. In the words of The Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want.”

Given that:

  • people entering the workforce now are likely to be made redundant at least 5 times during their career;
  • within the next few years, 40% or more of the workforce will be self-employed, contractors, freelancers, or employed in the gig economy, and therefore will be more reliant than ever on their own abilities to generate an income; and
  • an increasing number of today’s jobs will disappear through automation or other technology advances;

it makes sense to include resilience on the curriculum, to prepare students for the reality of the new economy.

As we are all too aware, having a degree or other formal qualification is no guarantee that candidates will get a job or role in the career of their choice. And even if they do, sooner or later they will have to consider a career switch – which may include having to make a sideways or even a backwards move in order to go forward in a new field or discipline. Plus some re-training or skill updates wouldn’t go amiss.

Resilience helps us to deal with life’s disappointments and overcome personal and professional setbacks. It can also help us to learn from those experiences – what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

While it’s important to provide a safe and supportive learning environment, I’m not a fan of  helicopter parents, so-called tiger parenting, let alone stage parents. Over-coddled kids are more likely to come unstuck (or go off the rails) at the first obstacle or challenge they face, especially in circumstances where they might not like the choices life has presented them.

I may be drawing a long bow here, but I can’t help thinking there is some sort of correlation between current concepts of modern parenting and education, and the higher incidences of allergies and mental illness – and maybe stronger resistance through greater resilience would help pupils cope with whatever gets thrown at them. Just saying.

Next week: Curiosity



5 thoughts on “The new education #2: Resilience

  1. The kids getting out and protesting for acceptance by Pollies that climate change is real, and is a threat is a great sign, as they did it against the institutional response to do as they were told, and not to think.
    Some great posters as well, amongst the offensive and silly ones.

  2. The start of a good discussion! Regarding education helping students develop life resilience, arguably, the school curriculum forces subject specialisation too soon and developing student resilience (to life’s challenges) needs students to develop more skills that just memorising facts and sitting exams under time pressure. Perhaps current parenting approaches struggle to cope with the speed of change in society (technology, social values and political change). Parents can progressively encourage their kids to be independent and use good judgement, but can’t control many of the outside forces. And both the parents and kids struggle to value the risks on some things too.

  3. On developing resilience generally, in the animal kingdom, the survivors seem to have multiple approaches to survive and thrive. For example, protective outer shells, speed, camouflage, the safety of the herd and/or a sting in the tail. Students could usefully take criticism professionally on the surface, not personally under the surface. Learning to develop options and using them carefully is another way to stay resilient. As is learning quickly from mistakes (yours or other peoples).

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