Building resilience in students

Building resilience in students

Building resilience in students

The new millennium has seen a surge in the academic progress of our country. Thus, there could be no better time for students to find themselves in. Unlike the academic scenario of the yesteryears where subject combinations and institutes offering them were limited, the choices presently available are too many. “It is literally a five-star buffet spread,” a teacher from a leading higher-secondary school in Bengaluru commented in jest, on the number of subject combinations available to students. “What is worse is just as we would leave a plate with unfinished food for a fresh plate for food from another counter, students keep hopping from one discipline to the other, not giving themselves enough time or patience to be drawn into the subject. And that is not all, students want the best and when the best is not forthcoming, rather than remain resilient, they perceive it as the end of the road.”

Delving deeper into these observations of a teacher who spends a good amount of his waking hours with students, the malady of impulsive and weak-minded behavioural patterns of the millennials emerge. Add to this the stigma attached to failure and the narrow outlook to success, students are constantly on the edge, susceptible for a devastating breakdown anytime.

The distressing story of 17-year-old Kriti Tripathi is a case in point. The young student had many options to choose from in her high school. Though she was not too keen on engineering, her parents wanted her to become one and provided all the facilities to help her get a good score that will ensure a seat in one of the premier colleges in the country. But sadly, she never made it. Shortly after the results of the IIT-JEE Mains 2016, in which she had a reasonably good score, she jumped to her death from a five-storey building. Her five-page suicide note was more than startling. Among other factors contributing to her taking the extreme step, it read: “I have started hating myself to the extent that I want to kill myself.”

Telling numbers
Suicides and suicidal tendencies have always plagued human life and its spirit. Yet, the fact that today, many of our youngsters are resorting to taking away their own lives is writing on the wall of things going awry. According to the ‘Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing’ study released in May this year, suicide was the leading cause of death among youngsters aged 10-24 years in India.

Another report published in 2014 by the National Crime Records Bureau on suicides, cites a whopping 55,833 deaths under the age of 30 years, all indicative of our youngsters not being adequately educated to face failures and realities of life. In the wake of such facts, parents, teachers and educational institutes ought to rise up to the responsibility of the making our students resilient, which in the end could prove to be a more vital life skill than an exclusive cerebral training.

Competitive levels have changed; the expectations on young students to perform well have changed; the yardsticks used to earmark students as proficient have changed; the connotation of student accomplishment has changed; finally, the satisfaction levels of students themselves on their performance levels have changed. Ergo, when all the parameters in the equation of student performance and their sense of accomplishment have undergone a paradigm shift, it is imperative that the emotional stability of these growing adults is addressed. 

Failures as learning tools
How students view the myriad end results of their performances reflect their emotional maturity. Making youngsters emotionally stable entails training them to be balanced in their reactions to success and more importantly to failures along their way. Failures are bound to loom large in a competitive climate. Taking to failures badly and in an unsporting manner is a one way ticket to further pitfalls and setbacks. However, when failures are faced in the right manner, they can be teachers, enlightening a student of a better and refined methodology in achieving results. 

It is here that they should be taught to imbibe the quality of resilience as it toughens students while making them mentally strong. It prepares them to face the challenges of a modern, competitive and dynamic world of knowledge and performance. It allows a student to develop  holistically and handle failures in a positive way.

A resilient student who has a fundamental grip on himself or herself and his or her abilities, is able to plan not just for tomorrow but for a greater period into his or her future. He or she is ennobled to put himself or herself in the larger scheme of things and is willing to see both sides of an aggressive and cut-throat environment. Among other factors, the key elements that give students this advantage of resilience is an integrated learning climate, with the right mix of academics and co-curricular activities, an empathetic parental and tutor support and a realistic personal expectation of the students themselves.

A student’s life is never easy. Yet, suicides and other extreme eventualities should never be permitted to cross a young mind. Making students resilient is a more urgent call than providing them with a smorgasbord of academic choices, if they have to reap the benefits of a prosperous learning climate that has emerged in the new millennium.

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