Is Your School Building Resilience?
Families often choose strong schools because they are academically rigorous, diverse and defined by exceptional, supportive teaching. We believe too that parents also hail a school’s caring and committed learning community as additional key factors. Caring and commitment to learning can translate into the cultivation of resilience, a key attribute in achieving academic success as well as success in life.
Beyond matriculation to colleges and universities, what should be of utmost importance to students and parents is the resilience factor. While only about 40 percent of all 25 year olds have actually completed college, virtually all graduates of strong, progressive schools (public and private) not only attend college but graduate as well. The overarching philosophy of these exemplar schools contributes to this phenomenon because they intentionally encourage students to actively participate in the life of the school in all facets of learning and being.
Developing Success Skills in the 21st Century
Education serves as a critical pathway on which students, without fear, discover for themselves what is real, what is true. They begin to freely shape their own unique worldviews and create opportunities for themselves and others. As progressive learning communities forge ahead in their quest to remain relevant and viable in an era of global connectedness, 21st century learning philosophies have emerged to shape and inform transformative change processes in our schools. There is strong agreement among researchers that the skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking are necessary and must be integrated into our children’s classrooms. Schools must be truly intentional and progressive in their approach, embracing integrated curricula in which information is not merely dispensed, but where children are also encouraged to persist and create knowledge.
The inherent power of learning – absorbing and synthesizing new understandings – derived from either our formal, intellectual settings or from the “classrooms of life,” illuminate endless possibilities for students to arrive at new perceptions, interpretations, meanings and convictions. In that light, in your search for an outstanding learning environment, be sure to examine whether or not your school of choice cultivates opportunities through which students access information; think deeply and critically to generate knowledge, understanding and meaning; dialog with others in order to foster an appreciation for diverse experiences and perspectives; and promote positive relationships within the school community.
Agency and Resilience: Keys to Life
Optimally, a strong school should bestow upon students agency – the capacity to act and advocate for one’s self in the world – and foster resilience by nurturing intellectual skills, self-regulation skills, positive self-perceptions and self-efficacy, hope and a sense of meaning, pro-social friends, positive relationships with competent adults and a supportive learning community. Resilience, in my mind, is the sole determining factor of a critical life outcome – becoming a self-actualized, courageous, kind and proactive contributor in our globally connected world.