The theme of this year’s CTE summer conference for Utah educators involved in Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance, Youth in Custody, Adult Education, Prevention, and Student Services was Promoting Resiliency: Student Success from Crayons to College and Career Ready.
Resilience is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” In their online guide, Road to Resilience, they offer ten tips to teens to build resilience (click link to see detail):
1. Get together.
2. Cut yourself some slack.
3. Create a hassle-free zone.
4. Stick to the program.
5. Take care of yourself.
6. Take control.
7. Express yourself.
8. Help somebody.
9. Put things in perspective.
10. Turn it off.
We may wonder why some people can experience difficult situations and traumatic events, and yet appear able to readily “bounce back.” This ability to bounce back, i.e., demonstrate resilience even under the most trying circumstances, is actually a set of skills that can be learned.
Since the conference, I have given much thought to the notion that resilience is learned. That idea conflicts with my intuitive sense that there are aspects of resilience that are innate. In my own family, I’m not alone when I observe the difference between one relative who was “born happy,” and another who appears totally unable to find the “silver lining,” only more dark clouds. My happy relative has bounced back from adversity numerous times; the other appears more and more dejected. I have a lot more thinking and research to do on the subject, but I am very interested in the concept of learning resilience, and – because I’m an educator, after all – much heartened at the thought of being able to teach the skills that enable people to be resilient. Sharing the biography of Jason Becker is where I would begin.
Born in 1969, Jason Becker is a virtuoso guitarist and composer. At age 20, just as his career was really taking off, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and given just three to five years to live. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, is a documentary about Jason’s life, and a moving testament to resilience. I challenge you to watch the film. In addition to gaining a much better understanding all the skills of resilience referenced above, you will – without a doubt – learn other life lessons, and may be (I hope you’ll be) inspired to share those lessons with others.
Photo courtesy of http://jasonbeckerguitar.com/photo_galleries.html.