The most important asset

Posted on June 11, 2018

Towards the end of our child’s formal school education, many of us have changed our view of what education is all about. As exam time looms and decisions have to be made on the QTAC application form (Tertiary Admissions), the sole focus becomes results that can be measured.

There is an adage which says we value what we measure and measure what we value. However, not all that is good can be measured. All of us would agree that love is the most important thing, but you cannot measure how much love a person has for another (to the moon and back perhaps?)

It is sad that education today is limited by a number. Talk about “evidence-based” practices abound, as if an education worth having is solely about academic performance.

Let me make it clear that academic performance is important. I believe this strongly and academic results are a key focus of our School’s culture.

However, academic results are not the sole aspect of a good education. One of the best indicators of a person’s success in life is resilience; their ability to bounce back from adversity, failure, disappointment. The development of resilience is at least as important as academic results. And given the challenges facing our students due to digital disruption in the years ahead, perhaps resilience is in fact even more important.

Scott Peck’s opening line in his most famous work, The Road Less Travelled, says, “Life is difficult”. He states this as a matter of fact, not as a pessimist. He goes on to to say that we only grow and experience what it means to be fully human if we have the courage and resilience to work through adversity. He is harsher to those who shy away from the tough times, seeking ways to avoid them instead.

I fear, and so do many of my colleagues from schools across Brisbane and the rest of Australia, that we are seeing a decline in resilience in the general population. Perhaps the rise in anxiety and mental illness that we are also seeing is not a co-incidence?

An education worth having is one that focuses not just on a child’s academic performance, but the development of their character and traits that will help them live a life of flourishing. Our camping programs, many aspects of our curriculum, our Realms of Thinking, all have a focus on developing resilience in children.

The greatest educational outcomes are achieved when the School and family are working in harmony with each other. As parents, you can support the development of resilience. It is okay to say “no” to a child; children value boundaries and structure. It is okay for a child to experience disappointment. It is okay to experience failure. If your child does fail, don’t let them give up, or do the work for them, encourage them to try again, not unlike you did when they were learning to ride a bike and fell off for the first 10 or 15 times.

The reality is that resilience, like love, cannot be measured. However, this does not mean it is any less important than academic performance. Perhaps what we cannot measure are actually the most important things in life.


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