Fostering resilience in learners is vital to students’ holistic development and future success. In recent years, we have witnessed a substantial decrease in children’s ability to overcome setbacks and hurdles, both academically and socially. This can be attributed to the dynamic nature of the 21st century. Dependence on technology has increased; decreasing the amount of time spent creating and maintaining social connections. Parents have become more protective; allowing less time for unstructured play, thus limiting the opportunities to learn from experiences and failures. Most importantly falling under the pressures of modern society to unrealistically succeed across all disciplines, stigmatizing failure rather than learning from it (Weir, 2017).
Children learn how to become resilient from observing their environments. Since children spend most of their days at school, it is only logical to assume that a school environment that promotes resilience will positively affect their development of the skill. Schools play a significant role in advancing resilience in children by providing supportive environments, implementing interventions to develop essential skills, and providing training to handle adversities. (Cesarone, 1999) During the planning phase at Eternity International School, when deciding on a curricular framework to adopt, we were adamant about employing a framework that would allow us to create such an environment for our students. After thorough research, we decided to use The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) as it places significant emphasis on fostering resilience in learners as an integral aspect of its educational philosophy. Founded on a holistic approach to education, the IPC prioritises the development of the child as a whole rather than merely focusing on academic achievements. From the IPC perspective, resilience is viewed as a crucial life skill that empowers students to navigate a rapidly changing world (International Curriculum Association, 2022).
Resilience, in the educational context, refers to the ability to bounce back from setbacks, navigate challenges, and develop coping mechanisms for stressors. Resilient learners are able to maintain a positive outlook when faced with academic, social, or personal challenges. Resilience also equips students with essential life skills such as problem-solving and emotional intelligence (Condly, 2006).
On paper, fostering resilience seems like a straightforward endeavor, however, how does one practically teach children such a crucial life skill is a question that is raised by many educators. Educators must first examine how students think and react to situations, understanding how their mindset works. When a student has a fixed mindset; the belief that one’s qualities, such as intelligence, for instance, cannot be developed, (Central Washington University, n.d.), they automatically limit their ability to learn new skills such as resilience. Accordingly, embracing a growth mindset in the IPC can significantly contribute to fostering resilient learners.
The concept of a growth mindset was popularised by American psychologist Carol S. Dweck who believes that an individual’s personal qualities are dynamic and can be developed through practice, training, and determination (Dweck, 2006). In today’s day and age, the opportunities for learning and growth are boundless. Embracing a Growth Mindset allows students to see challenges as opportunities for learning rather than obstacles. Great teachers believe that all their students can experience intellectual growth and thus strive to encourage them to question assumptions, make mistakes, and learn from them.
The interdisciplinary nature of the IPC, which integrates various subjects and real-life contexts, provides opportunities for students to face challenges and reservations through their learning experiences. This curriculum encourages learners to approach problems as opportunities for growth, promoting a growth mindset that aligns with the principles of resilience.
Some of the benefits of adopting a growth mindset at schools includes; enhanced learning experiences, students are encouraged to explore and examine without fearing being right or wrong. Another benefit is decreasing anxiety, students with a growth mindset tend to perform better in difficult tests, they no longer fear failure and see difficulties as opportunities to apply more effort or try new strategies, rather than a sign of their inability. Accordingly, they have increased motivation to discover and learn, further developing their skills and ability to cope with challenges. Most importantly, students with a growth mindset become resilient children who are able to overcome setbacks and are empowered to take charge of their own learning.
If children are taught how to adopt a growth mindset from early on, this thought process will become embedded in their brains, making it easier for them to adopt it as their permanent mindset. The challenge here lies in the ability to change one’s mindset. Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset proves to be particularly challenging for older students and teachers; requiring making a conscious decision to think and act differently.
Moreover, home-school collaboration is essential to ensure that students continue to have the same mindset outside the school boundaries. Accordingly, parental awareness and acceptance of the ideology behind having a growth set is imperative. Students who are berated by their parents for not meeting specific academic expectations or are scolded for their behaviour will most definitely have a shift in mindset.
By adopting and implementing a growth mindset through the IPC, we are raising resilient learners who will grow up to be adaptable, capable, creative adults. Adults who confidently tackle life's challenges, demonstrate readiness to embrace change and approach life’s setbacks with a positive and determined mindset.
Central Washington University (n.d.). CWU Learning Commons. [online] Available at: https://www.cwu.edu/academics/academic-resources/learningcommons/_documents/cwu-growth-vs-fixed-mindset-lc.pdf.
Cesarone, B. (1999). ERIC/EECE Report: Fostering the Resilience of Children. Childhood Education, [online] 75(3), pp.182–184. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.1999.10522011.
Condly, S.J. (2006). Resilience in Children. Urban Education, 41(3), pp.211–236. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085906287902.
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.
International Curriculum Association (2022). IPC Curriculum Guide. [online] Available at: https://internationalcurriculum.com/. Weir, K. (2017).
Maximizing Children’s Resilience. American Psychological Association. [online] Sep. Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/cover -resilience