Written by Andre Casson, Head of School, Australian International School Singapore
Resilience is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and bounce back from adversity. Resilience enables you to take calculated risks and capitalise on opportunities. – REIVICH AND SHATTLE
The above quote is by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shattle from their book The Resilience Factor (2011). It talks about a character trait that should be part of our conversations with the young men and women in our care – both as parents and as educators.
This is perhaps even more significant as we confront the uncertainty of a reality dominated by COVID-19. At present we find ourselves viewing the world more through a kaleidoscope rather than a precise lens. Things are changing, things are uncertain, things are unclear. These aspects we know but it is the way that we react to this uncertainty that will define our outcome. Do we view these times with anxiety and fear, which is a normal reaction, or do we see them as an opportunity to show resilience and growth?
Researchers agree that resilience is a complex process, one that cannot be defined on a one-dimensional scale. However, while you may not be able to teach resilience as a concept it may be possible to develop important skills that have been shown to instil grit and determination in our charges.
The key aspects that have been highlighted from several sources are:
HONE A TALENT
Children who are resilient have been shown to possess at least one activity at which they are excellent – this excellence is derived from practice and hard work.
FIND A CHAMPION
We all need someone who is in our corner. Someone who will support our endeavours. Someone who believes in us wholeheartedly.
Resilience is developed in those who seek to take responsibility for things in their life.
BE YOUR OWN RECRUITER
Studies show that the most resilient kids have a way of drawing in other people to help them.
A common thread among adults who rebound from adversity is that as children they helped others – selfless acts that have no apparent reward give children some perspective on their lives and troubles.
It is easy for us to forget the importance of rising from adversity when we think of our children – I know I certainly do. We tend to focus more on how we can make their lives “easier”. As I reflect on my own life I find that I have always learned so much more from my failures than my successes. Yet I am not sure I adequately afford my children and my students the same privilege – and we should always consider learning moments, even setbacks, as privileges. I would urge us all to reflect on how we can instil more chances for resilience in our young ones lives for as Rudyard Kipling shares in his moving poem If:
“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same.”
These are opportunities for us to look beyond the realms of what we know we can do and move into that which we did not think possible. To display resilience in the face of “disaster”. To become the best version of ourselves.