In last week’s maiden post for this blog-spot, student voice anchored the essential core essence of this work. In that, one insightful 17 year old Latina provided sage, and inspirational advice to other traditional underserved youth: “No one can ever take your spot.” This highlighted the sense that students should never give up, that they do matter, and that all students are worthy enough to succeed.
“No one can ever take your place.”
But how do we convince students of that? What do we do to aid them? What do we do as schools and communities to ensure this promise? How do we foster this critical resilience?
In 1983, the landmark survey of the American education system “A Nation at Risk” (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) reported that one of the greatest dangers to the nation was betraying the spirit of the values on which America was built.
The report stated “All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost” (pg. 1). The fair chance was the opportunity for all students to be given the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in life. This opportunity, ostensibly, would come from the public school system.
In some schools and communities, this fair chance is a “given.” In other schools and communities, this fair chance is something that is strived for and toiled upon by all involved. And in other schools and communities, this fair chance is more like a raw deal.
This all begs the question of what practical ways can schools help rally to provide the fair chance for all students, so that no one can ever take their spot? The answer is simply-complicated! Simple because the answer is research-based in that schools can help to build the academic resiliency of the students in their care. Complicated because providing this support needs to be overt and calculated. Schools need to be reflective as they strategically, and purposefully help build and harness the “Protective Factors” that help provide for and insulate children with resilience in school. These protective factors are what shield students from the realities of their status-quos’ and allow for them to be resilient. To never let anyone take their spot. To be ensured of a fair chance.
In so much, the next 4 week’s posts will delve into examples of protective factors that my own research found to aid in the resiliency of low-income, 1st generation college-bound, Latino youth, and to provide a discussion of each example within the scope of 500 words. Be fore-warned, however, these protective factors are wildly complex and interwoven – and some of the themes even play a dual-role in having the potential to be risk factors for students, and/or for being protective factors…
So, what are they? They are: motivation, institutional agents, belonging, and cultural identity.
Can you guess which 2 of those 4 can be either a risk factor or a protective factor? If so, can you then extrapolate that thought to how certain tweaks to “business as usual” and perceptions in schools throughout the land could help close the Achievement Gap for so many children? Simple tweaks, because all kids deserve to not have anyone take their place.
"Critical Resilience" This work is dedicated to the equal and fair education of all children, locally and globally.