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Habitualised Resilience

My daughter, Ebony, is 22 years old, and I love her to bits. She’d also kill me if she knew she was the subject of this week’s Home Truth. So, let’s keep this between us, eh? Thanks.

Eb had a difficult birth and, as such, was a little delayed in fine and gross motor skill development. She walked a little later than most babies and developed a tremor in her hands that, to this day, seems to bob up just when she needs to hold a hot cup of tea or thread a needle.

Blessed with her father’s clumsiness, we knew early that Eb was unlikely to become an Olympian. And that’s fine. Eb has other superpowers, including the ability to consume more literature in a weekend than any human I know. She’s a reading superhero.

But Eb’s ability to be resilient and to persist through a 1000-page novel isn’t all that admirable. That’s her happy place, and resilience placed in only our preferred context isn’t really resilience at all.

However, when Eb fronted up in her sports uniform for her school’s cross-country day in Year 12, telling me she knew she’d come last but that she’d try to complete the course without stopping … that was resilient.

I knew full well that other students had their parents write fake notes of fictional ailments excusing them from that run, but not Eb.

I’d contend there are three kinds of resilience:

  • Low resilience – struggle to persist or attempt almost any challenge.
  • Mid resilience – context-specific resilience (we’ve all taught a boy who’d finish a footy match with a broken ankle but loses the plot when asked to read a simple text).
  • High resilience – a portable or habitualised resilience, where we take self-talk that works in hard times and apply it to unexpected or unfavourable areas.

In teaching or fostering resilience in young people, a check to see if they can apply it where it’s most challenging is worthwhile before concluding that the resilience teaching work is done.

Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. We have a strict quota on the number of schools we can take on this year. So if you are considering commencing a Real Schools Partnership this year, let’s chat, reply to this email or click here, and we’ll make the conversation happen. 


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