Learn and strengthen in the face of crises, a value we teach at St. George’s British International School
Resilience is important in the educational process because it has been shown that, after family, school is a key environment, fundamental for students to acquire the necessary skills to get ahead thanks to their ability to overcome adversity.
Resilience studies indicate that those students who have generated a resilient behavior, who have been able to overcome these negative experiences by strengthening themselves in the process, have had someone: either from the extended family, the community or the school, with whom they managed to establish a positive bond. It is here where the role of the school and, in particular, of teachers acquires all its value and reveals its complexity. Schools as organizations and education in general are powerful builders and promoters of resilience in students. Given that the school institution has the capacity to build and foster resilience, there are many things that can be put into practice in order to ensure that this happens for the benefit of students as well as education.
How important is resilience in learning?
For some researchers, the seven factors that characterize resilience are:
- The ability to observe and observe oneself simultaneously, to ask difficult questions and give honest answers.
- The ability to maintain physical and emotional distance from problems without falling into isolation.
- The ability to create strong and intimate bonds with other people.
- The capacity for self-regulation and personal responsibility necessary to achieve autonomy and independence.
- Humor and creativity, understood as the ability to find the funny side of a tragedy, and to create order, beauty and objectives from chaos and disorder. They are generally a manifestation that adversity has already been overcome.
- The ability to wish others the same good that you wish for yourself and to commit to specific values.
- The ability to give meaning to one’s life.
How to apply resilience in the classroom?
The palm trees bend. This metaphor of the palm trees, which let strong winds pass, bend and bow their heads, but recover and continue to grow after storms, thus strengthening their trunk resistance, is used by authors of the matter such as José Carlos Bermejo to talk about resilience. It is a kind of general strength response to a crisis.
A key point when talking about external resilient factors is affection, “the school builds resilience in students through creating an environment of personal affective relationships (…) adults who work in schools must seek the strengths of each student with the same thoroughness he often uses to spot their problems, and make them see them, ”Nan Henderson, president of Resiliency in Action, a San Diego, California-based publishing and training company. A school that generates relationships of trust can promote resilience in its students, even if it is only an adult who transmits the idea and the feeling of “I care about you”, making the student live it without its limits, deficiencies or difficulties but from their strengths. In this sense, the teacher is a central mediation for the promotion of resilience in students.
Strength in the face of crisis
We know, for example, that under the apparent weakness of the one who cries, the strength of the one he loves tends to hide. Or as the great physician Sir William Osler would say, “the wound that does not find its expression in tears can cause the organs to cry.” And that is getting sick.
People who manage to overcome very serious traumatic situations have at least three main characteristics:
- The first one is that at the very moment of the trauma and crisis, the resilient already thinks about what he is going to do when he comes out of it. The presence of an idea of the future, of an expectation of exit, makes the pain more bearable and becomes a fundamental part of the process of overcoming the crisis.
- The second is that the resilient is able to formulate an explanation, a story of what happened to him. Being able to articulate the set of situations, images, feelings and representations associated with the trauma and the crisis in a meaningful sequence allows events to be coherent and, thus, their effects are more bearable and capable of being faced.
- Third, resilient people have had special ties with one or more people that have allowed them to strengthen their self-esteem and their confidence in the possibilities to overcome crisis situations. Trust does not mean avoiding efforts, but rather strengthening the capacity to carry them out.
What to do to promote resilience?
Resilience, seen as “the ability to recover, overcome and adapt successfully in the face of adversity, and develop social, academic and vocational competence despite being exposed to serious stress or simply the tensions inherent in today’s world” opens possibilities compression to accompany children and young people in their vital conflicts and enables them to face possible adversities in life. In this sense, more schools are needed, such as St. George’s British International School, that build a general air of solidarity, as well as beneficial relationships between students, teachers and families, as a social factor that promotes resilience in them.