Helping young people to be resilient=Curriculum for Excellence=Resiliency









In one of my recent posts I explored the concept of “learned hopelessness” where young people are in danger of becoming conditioned by global economic circumstances to accept that their destiny is essentially hopeless.

I’ve had some positive feedback about that article and there has been general agreement that an education system which is purely aligned to churning out examination results is not adequately preparing young people for their future life where the only certainty is uncertainty.

Unfortunately it seems that every week I’m hearing stories of young people who left school with great examination results, went to university and either dropped out or are now struggling to make their way regardless of the quality of their degree.  That’s not to say that either of these outcomes is necessarily disastrous but it does throw the young person back onto their ability to overcome adversity.

If I then think back even five years and consider the secondary school curriculum I see something where such an ability didn’t even feature on the horizon.  As long as schools delivered the necessary percentage of examination results for their school then it was “job done”. What happened after that was nothing to do with us.  For their part parents conspired with such a system and through “helicoptering”, removing all obstacles, providing tutoring, and a maintaining a singular focus upon examination results assumed that the future would take care of itself – as it had done for them.

However, things have changed and that’s where – through amazing foresight – the Scottish education system is actually better prepared than other countries to adapt to our new reality.

For Curriculum for Excellence does recognise that young people need so much more than the certificates they hold in their hands upon leaving school.

That’s why I’d like to work with parents, young people, teachers, school leaders, employers and others over the next year to work out what we collectively understand by resiliency and consider how it could provide a purpose for everything we collectively do to prepare our children and young people to lead independent and successful lives beyond our influence and support.

re·sil·ience? ?[ri-zil-yuhns]  noun 1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

4 thoughts on “Helping young people to be resilient=Curriculum for Excellence=Resiliency

  1. As an individual who has worked in an outdoor environment for several years and witnessed the power of well designed programmes. I feel a plug for the inclusion of outdoor learning approaches is required and also I offer a definition of resilience
    Resilience is often used as something that is nurtured by the use of Outdoor Learning.
    Resilience = an individual’s capacity for maintenance, recovery or improvement

    “Developing psychological resilience is one of the most relevant applications of outdoor education in the increasingly sedentary 21st century Western societies. Since its early days, outdoor education programs have been used to improve the capacity of individuals to withstand and even thrive in difficult circumstances” (Neill 2004).

    Resilience can be fostered by learning to handle risk. The curriculum for excellence supports this in its capacities in building confident individuals. This is crucial if we are to avoid what’s already being mentioned as the “lost generation” syndrome i.e. “..becoming conditioned by global & economic circumstances to accept that their destiny is essentially hopeless”
    It seems it’s never been more urgent to deal with developing, not just young people’s but the whole community’s ability to deal with risk and challenge.

    Tackling this by nurturing the ability to deal with uncertainty may be the key to allow us to develop abilities to deal with these “certainties” that are being compounded by doom and gloom austerity and political rhetoric. By seeing the certainty as another risk factor we then focus on personal capacity for improvement and maintenance.

    Outdoor learning experiences can support the building of resilience not just by offering physical stress but psychological encounters that allow us to develop our capacity to deal with everyday life. By encountering challenge individuals can be “inoculated “

    “Just as immunity to infections is gained through the controlled exposure to a pathogen (rather than avoiding the pathogen), so too successful encountering of difficult challenges can provide a form of psychological inoculation” (Rutter 1993).

    Although there is no magic bullet a skilful use of outdoor learning opportunities integrated as part of the CfE can at least support the momentum to build resilience. This is well supoported through guid ance by Education Scotland and Local Outdoor Learning departments

    Sadly they too are all to often a victim of global economic uncertainty, In a year when 1 in 3 outdoor centres are closing we need to act now if a tried and tested approach to building resilience is to be “lost” to an entire “generation”.

  2. ‘Resilience – knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do’ – taken from the dictionary of outdoor learning compiled by MPegg.

  3. Pingback: Ice Station Soutra | East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service

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