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Resilience in Education

, September 8, 2022, 0 Comments

education-youth-marketexpress-inThe greatest impact of Covid-19 and the lockdowns were on the kids and teenagers. Being a faculty myself, I have witnessed the changes in my students, where even the most active students of the offline classes had moved into a state of complete inactiveness. Even during the mentoring sessions with the students, I witnessed a spike in the cases of mental depression and anxiety issues. I somehow wonder whether our education system empowers the younger generations with resilience? Should that not be the purpose of education- to help them to survive and come out during setbacks?

Students committing suicide for not getting access to online classes, and kids running away from their homes after witnessing fights between their parents during lockdowns had become a regular affair. Even the income and job loss of parents and family members had created a lot of adversities for the student community in general. The number of school dropouts and child marriages started trending in countries like ours. But is the pandemic only stressing the need for resilience. Not really. It was a recognition of the proportion of the population not fit for army recruitment during World War II that spurred the setting up of the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA.

But the real issue is much bigger. The issue is how to create a conducive environment for an individual right from their childhood. As Aristotle once said, “man is a social animal”, and the impact of society on a human being is immense. The identity of a human being is an intersection of his traits and the social impact and what he experiences during his childhood is very critical in molding his future.

So what is the quality of education we all have been talking about for the last many decades? Is the quality of education only related to making the future generation job ready and competitive in the market? Well, this pandemic has taught us that it’s not. The real purpose of education should be to make them resilient to many situations, positive or negative. We should teach our generations to accept and move ahead during adversities.

The goal should not be just to teach them how to land a job, but how to survive on their own when they can’t find the right job or lose the one they are having and still stay positive. Education should not make you ready to prevent adversities, it should teach one to stay afloat during adversities and face them. Resilience hence becomes a hot topic in the aftermath of the pandemic, wars, and all such adversities. It is something that should start from the family, the school, and society at large. Our education system should shift from focusing only on the regular curriculum and it should be ready to provide emotional and mental support not just to students, but to teachers and the society which these kids will create in the future.

Resilience is the ability to adapt well to adversities and come out of them. Resilience teaches students to get away from the negative impacts of adverse situations and helps them to excel even during academic or environmental challenges. It helps them to become independent and mature individuals, thus, preventing them from breaking down during a crisis.

How can we build resilience in children?

Children grow up to be the future of any country and hence teaching them resilience at the school level is of utmost importance. The high-cost technical investments or some special and unique apps are not required for teaching resilience. It can be taught by bringing in small changes in our teaching system.
Setting brave/difficult goals but not expecting the child to always succeed

This is one of the most important aspects of teaching resilience. It’s very much required to make a child understand that the world is not full of roses and they have to step on the thorns as well and it’s okay to get injured at times. They should learn to see and face difficulties in life. For that, they need to get into the habit of seeing it from school. Give them challenges and at times, very difficult ones. Let them succeed, but also let them fail. It’s important to remember that failure teaches better lessons than success and it also helps one to understand what not to do while facing a challenge. So schools should get into the system of not just applauding and recognizing successful students, but patting the students who take up the challenge and fail after giving their best.

Promote responsible risk-taking behavior

With this, I don’t intend to say that we should promote a 5-year-old kid to climb mountains. But let them climb chairs and tables in the house, let them run around with friends alone. Let the kids experiment so that they know it’s okay to take risks in life and it’s okay to fail. If not, when they grow up and life throws bigger risks in front of them, they tend to lose even before fighting the battle.
Talk to children about changing phases of life and make them emotionally aware.

In today’s world, it’s not difficult to see children with good IQ. But needless to say, it’s not very easy to find the ones with good EQ. It’s okay to say “No” to children and our education system should also deal with this issue and even make parents aware of it. The world is such that parents cannot say “No” when their kids ask for something, and schools cannot say “No” when parents ask for something on behalf of their children. More than considering students as students, our education system is moving in a direction where we treat students as “customers” and try to fulfill all their requirements, whether good or bad. In this process, where are we teaching them resilience? Give it a thought!

Encourage children to take humor in the way it is intended to be.

Recently, I happened to hear one of the greatest orators of the country on a platform, where he said “the greatest right of any citizen today, is the right to get offended”. 100% true. Society has become so insensitive that we cannot take humor the way it is. Everything and everyone gets offended. Every single word becomes offensive…. Starting from “religion, upbringing, parents, love and even preference of partner”. If all these words are intended to offend someone, why on earth are they still seen in our vocabulary and dictionaries? There used to be times when the cane was a constant part of teaching in schools and teachers had the right to scold students like parents and we still had great scientists, politicians, doctors, and engineers come out of that educational system. But now we see news of children committing suicide when teachers make silly jokes about their mistakes in front of their batch mates or friends. Where are we heading and what resilience are we teaching these younger generations? Let us teach them to be strong and to take humor the way it is intended to be. They need not encourage bad humor, but good humor is always good for mental and physical health.

Learning from mistakes
We normally tell children- “Mistakes happen, forget it”. I would say the first part is correct, mistakes do happen. But do not ask them to forget it. Instead, ask them to learn from it so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes. This is another main quality of being resilient. And this builds the confidence level of a child at a very young age.

Having said all of these, I would still want to reiterate that resilience cannot be taught as a course in school or as a parenting lesson alone. It’s a culture that needs to be built. And it has to come from society at large. So let us try to make our future generations resilient through education and not teach them the right to get offended. Let us talk to them about the failed people who had taken risks and not just about the success stories. Let us tell them it’s okay to cry even if you are a boy and it’s okay to shout even if you are a girl and not generalize the emotions to genders. And last, but not least, let us try to build a resilient society so that any pandemic or crisis cannot break the spine of the nation, which is built by its people.