Resilience and Learning: And Still I Rise

The most recent Educational Leadership (a journal published monthly by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development–ASCD) is dedicated to the topic of resilience and learning, i.e. how one’s ability to cope with failure and adversity is related to learning. Schools can either enhance and foster resilience in young people or they can perpetuate in young people an inability to deal with the struggles of life.  Educational Leadership offers 7 Secrets of Resilience.

The lead article is an interview with the poetess Maya Angelou.  Overcoming a very difficult childhood and extraordinary obstacles, including poverty and racial prejudice, Dr. Angelou (now 85 years old) has made significant contributions to literature, the arts, civil rights, and women’s rights.

In the interview she is asked:

If you could leave our readers with one thought about how schools can best support kids and foster resilience, what would it be?

I would ask the teacher to be sure that this is the program—this is the job—that he or she is called to do. Don’t just teach because that’s all you can do. Teach because it’s your calling. And once you realize that, you have a responsibility to the young people. And it’s not a responsibility to teach them by rote and by threat and even by promise. Your responsibility is to care about what you’re saying to them, to care about what they’re getting from what you’re saying. If you care about the child and care about the information, you’ll handle both with care, and maybe with prayer. Handle them both with prayer.

How remarkably similar is this to the injunction of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who in speaking to his first teachers tells them: “The more loving you are to the young, the greater will be the effects of God’s grace.” (Med 134.2—on St. Barnabas)

Brother Frederick