There is a lot of talk about the importance of developing character in students, with resilience being mentioned a lot. The question on most people’s minds though is not if resilience is a good skill to have, but how to teach it.
What Is It?
Despite being the hot topic in education circles at the moment, many people have different definitions of what it actually is. We think that it is best characterised by not giving up too quickly, maintaining motivation despite a setback, and keeping focused on the long term goal.
Why You Can’t Teach It (And Shouldn’t Try To)
Resilience shouldn’t be viewed as a skill to teach; it is an outcome. You cannot teach it in isolation. The best we can do is to teach the skills that help someone become resilient and provide an environment for it to flourish.
We have previously blogged on how education can use research on resilient Olympians to help students. Some of these tips were exposing them to some stress, having challenging but realistic goals, and developing a team around them.
So what are the skills that allow resilience to develop? We think there are two areas to concentrate on. Firstly, improving your mindset; and secondly, improving your ability to perform under pressure. This 90 second video gives a short overview of the topics we cover when helping students do this.
Mental Resilience Tips
There is a strong research base that suggests that how you talk to yourself will impact on how resilient you are, how confident you feel and how well you perform under pressure
- Helpful self talk - A review found strong evidence that talking to yourself in an instructional manner (e.g. telling yourself what you would do differently) helps you focus on what to do next, instead of dwelling on the problem. Further research on school children found that it also helped self-control.
- Energising self talk - This style of self-talk can act as a call to action and removes apathy. One phrase we use with both our sporting and education clients is “Don’t rush to I can’t”.
- Ask yourself questions - Studies have found that those who ask themselves questions instead of making statements (‘Will I?’ instead of ‘I Will’) performed better as it increased their motivation to succeed.