Saturday, November 13, 2010


As a mother of a child who commenced his schooling journey last year, resilience was a term that was advised repeatedly as being neccessary to develop in our child to hold him in good stead through his impending journey. Developing this capacity in our son has been a focus for us, as parents, over the past 2 years. It requires daily support and encouragement and is still a focus for us. So what is resilience?
According to Wikipedia ...

Resilience is defined as a dynamic process that individuals exhibit positive behavioral adaptation when they encounter significant adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress
I have recently listened to a podcast on The Engaging Brand, Anna Farmery interviewed Jill Flint-Taylor (episode 296), an occupational psychologist from Robertson Cooper in UK. The focus of Robertson Cooper's recent research was on resilience within the workplace.
As I was listening I was considering student resilience. Is there a concept called learner resilience?

Resilience can be developed however people come to a job/course with a level of pre-existing resilience so this poses the question, how does the manager/facilitator gauge the worker's/learner's resilience? Perhaps it is a process of trial and error where high levels of support are required until the manager/facilitator builds an understanding of the worker's/learner's resilience levels.

Resilience is very multi-dimensional in that people can be resilient in different areas ie.handle heavy workload but if their work relationships break down then this can cause them stress, whereas others may not handle the heavy workload regardless of their work relationships.
From a learning perspective can some learnes manage heavy reading workloads but crumble when it comes to assessment/exam or vice versa.

Back to the podcast..Anna was fascinated with the idea of 'perception' that Jill kept mentioning as resilience kicks in (is required) when neccessary. For example a person can carry on business as usual but "it is when they recognise that they have taken on too much that they turn (keel) over", their perception of how they are coping is changed. Is this when a student might dropout of their course or subject, the workload is perceived to be overwhelming so they quit. In OER courses where there is no financial commitment is it easier for a student to make the decision to quit?

Flint-Taylor suggests that we need to "..get the right balance between challenging people and supporting them, you need to do both". The research indicates that you have to be 'stretched' (challenged) to develop resilience and it is important that the manager/facilitator ensures they (the workers/learners) do not 'get stuck there'.

Further research (a google search) led me to bite-sized languages, a blog post that discusses the work of Professor Guy Claxton who refers to resilience as one of the learning muscles, along with resourcefulness, reflection and reciprocity. Apparently the work of Claxton has been adopted widely in UK education. Wikipedia talks about Learning Power which includes Claxtons work.


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