Thread: Resilience Board: Oblivion / Ship of Fools.


To visit this thread, use this URL:
http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=70;t=029856

Posted by anoesis (# 14189) on :
 
Just wondering whether any shipmates have any thoughts about the following:

The school year has just begun here, and for the second year in a row, one of my kids, who is tracking at or above the age-expected standards across all subjects, has been put into a class with those who are struggling, those who will need additional learning resources, and those who have some behaviour management issues.

Last year I was told it was because they thought she would interact best with a teacher who had been teaching juniors up until very recently, having just come out of the junior section. (Due to unexpected enrolment pressures she spent a whole two weeks in that class before being dumped into a class with a scary middle-school teacher, who was of course completely fine).

This year I have been told that it is best she be where she is because she 'needs to develop a little more resilience', and this class is a safe environment for her to work on that.

Now: On the one hand, I do kind of know what they are talking about. This is an anxious child who finds not knowing things or not being able to do things really awful, and whose standard response to anything going wrong is to dissolve into floods of tears. I also understand why it would be a pain to have this sort of thing going on in the classroom all the time. But I sort of smell a rat with this 'needs to develop resilience' thing. I think what they really want is for her to stop spraying her emotions all over everyone in the vicinity so everyone can just get on with the business at hand, and 'resilience' is merely an acceptable way of saying this. Because how, really, is someone going to learn to deal with failure and so on when they keep being placed in classes with kids less (academically) capable than themselves? It looks to me like they are trying to avoid potentially challenging situations more than anything else. And I'm not sure I agree with that.

From what I can garner, reading about 'resilience' as a concept, you've either got it or you've not. But even those who don't will still develop some emotional maturity in their own sweet time. I speak from experience - I suppose I may appear 'resilient', and I certainly don't throw things when I'm frustrated or cry when I can't do things or stuff goes wrong, but that's because I'm an adult - not because I'm all zen and have learned to let the wind flow through my branches, etc. I don't cry when shit goes wrong because I've learned not to. Not because I don't experience the urge. Does that make me repressed? Are there really any other alternatives if you are an anxious person? Hell - I don't even know what I'm trying to say anymore, except that I'm not sure that my kid is getting the best deal by being kept in a more 'safe' environment at school, and I'm not sure I accept this 'resilience' rationale. If they want to hold her back until she stops stressing about stuff, they're in for a long ride. She's got pedigree, on both sides.
 
Posted by Evangeline (# 7002) on :
 
I'd be asking a lot more questions if I were you. Why is your daughter being denied "mainstream" education and upon what basis? What assessments have been done to determine that his class situation is appropriate? What specific individualised learning plan has been implemented to address this identified"special need' AND how is her academic progress being maintained whilst in this class?

If you're sure this situation isn't appropriate I'd start intimating discrimination and finding out how to make a fuss in appropriate ways. Good luck.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
hosting/

On first reading, the OP is more about the circumstances of an individual child than about resilience as a concept. If so, it will be more suited to All Saints; hostly consultation is in progress.

In the meantime, the usual provisos about care when posting personal information and offering advice apply.

/hosting
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I know nothing about this child nor anything about the educational theories or basis behind this decision.

But.. I do know that resilience as a concept is important for children to learn from an early age. When my daughter's junior school seemed intent on trying to label her as having trouble with mathematics, we quickly discovered that the "problem" was that she was getting too upset to think clearly about what was being asked and so could not complete the tasks.

So after some discussion with her grandparents (retired mathematics teachers), we started looking for resources we could use which she could complete and see progress. After a while she gained confidence and was much improved.

Years later she is moving forward with higher level mathematics.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that this is a solution for all children, who are obviously complicated and have different abilities and emotions.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Hosting/

Moving this to All Saints following consultation. If anyone wants to discuss the general concept of resilience, feel free to start another thread in Purgatory.

/hosting
 
Posted by Belle Ringer (# 13379) on :
 
Responded as for purg, not worth rewriting except to say my instant reaction was "pull the kid out of that school."

I've been intrigued about why some people have more resilience than others. Why do some grow up in bad circumstances and come out on top while others drown.

Some of it is inborn, some can be learned: what's the best way to learn? My dad learned to swim by being thrown into a pool deep end and told to sink or swim. His mom was an excellent swimmer, no real danger; he learned to swim but he never enjoyed being in water, never voluntarily swam, missed out on all the fun of water play through the years. Is that really what we want to teach kids - grit your teeth and do it but hate it all your life?

Best way I know to get a kid to drop out of school as early as allowed is make the school experience miserable for them.

Some schools dump "difficult" kids into a cesspool and write them off instead of looking at each individual kid to see what the need might be and how to meet the need.

Local school dumps "special needs" kids in one room where they are pretty much warehoused, no focus in how needs of autistic differ from needs of a profoundly deaf. Of course the kids act out! Which the school claims justifies their decision to write the kid off.

Warehousing kids is good for the school budget, bad for the kids who could thrive if they got some well informed structured extra attention instead of being labeled "problem kid" and dumped.

I have seen amazing turn-arounds when kid got a few hours (spaced out) of the informed one on one help they needed.
 
Posted by Galilit (# 16470) on :
 
My first thought was "Isn't this a New Zealander?"
Checked and saw that you were indeed in God's Own Country. How typical.
There are cultures (of which NZ is one) which have this thing about "pulling yourself together". Speaking as a child who DID. Learned that one very quickly (albeit half a century ago).
Moving to Another Culture where "melt downs" are just part of life and people rush at you with sympathy, cool face-flannels and cups of water...I found myself at last.
If you think "they" can help your daughter to develope " resilience" without giving up her sensitivity... go ahead. I would recommend it. Better in the long run than suffering and struggling; then by chance moving half way across the planet only to find there is nothing wrong with you. That it was pure anthroplogy that was oppressing you.
 
Posted by anoesis (# 14189) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
When my daughter's junior school seemed intent on trying to label her as having trouble with mathematics, we quickly discovered that the "problem" was that she was getting too upset to think clearly about what was being asked and so could not complete the tasks.

Yep, been there. And indeed, finding a way for my child to practice mathematics not in a classroom situation (via a web-based subscription-thingee) eventually got us through to a point where she now believes she can 'do' maths and thus has the confidence to engage with it. But the process was long, and extremely fraught, and involved a very great deal of her being upset (really upset) along the way. We felt cruel making her go through it over and over again but it seemed an absolute necessity - you have to know maths, it's non-negotiable. Learning to read was the same story (same process employed also), although once conquered it has at least become a joy. Learning to swim, ditto - and for the longest time. But two things were different about this. Firstly, despite the regular meltdowns and 'can'ts' at swimming, there was never a refusal to attend lessons. Secondly, this is the only area where I've observed anything resembling 'resilience' from her. My husband took her to lessons for several months because the experience became too stressful for me, and he habitually rewarded her (or not) with an icecream afterwards, based on how much she was trying, not how much she was achieving. Came the day he was away on business and I took her. About halfway through the lesson something went wrong and she began to cry, and I thought, 'Oh great, here we go', but no, she kept right on swimming, length after length, freestyle, backstroke, keeping pace with the others, and as she turned at my end I could see she was still weeping, and - somehow - breathing, and swimming. I was never more proud of her. I told her so. I don't think she got it.
 
Posted by anoesis (# 14189) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Belle Ringer:

Best way I know to get a kid to drop out of school as early as allowed is make the school experience miserable for them.

Some schools dump "difficult" kids into a cesspool and write them off instead of looking at each individual kid to see what the need might be and how to meet the need.

Local school dumps "special needs" kids in one room where they are pretty much warehoused, no focus in how needs of autistic differ from needs of a profoundly deaf. Of course the kids act out! Which the school claims justifies their decision to write the kid off.

Warehousing kids is good for the school budget, bad for the kids who could thrive if they got some well informed structured extra attention instead of being labeled "problem kid" and dumped.

I have seen amazing turn-arounds when kid got a few hours (spaced out) of the informed one on one help they needed.

I'd really rather not move her out of the school if it can be avoided, I think change is stressful for her as well. BUT your comments above have given my thoughts an interesting direction. I was kind of trying to think of a way to approach the school and (non-accusatively) ask them to explain their decision in a bit more detail, and perhaps ask them what they saw happening going forward. Now I think I might ask them how they are planning to assist her to develop resilience (and see if any of the one-on-one support you have mentioned is forthcoming), and if they have any advice as to how we can support their efforts in the home environment. In doing so, I make myself an ally, rather than a complaining parent, but it should also force them to come up with some answers and make it apparent if 'warehousing' is what is really going on, or not.
 
Posted by anoesis (# 14189) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
My first thought was "Isn't this a New Zealander?"
Checked and saw that you were indeed in God's Own Country. How typical.
There are cultures (of which NZ is one) which have this thing about "pulling yourself together". Speaking as a child who DID. Learned that one very quickly (albeit half a century ago).
Moving to Another Culture where "melt downs" are just part of life and people rush at you with sympathy, cool face-flannels and cups of water...I found myself at last.
If you think "they" can help your daughter to develope " resilience" without giving up her sensitivity... go ahead. I would recommend it. Better in the long run than suffering and struggling; then by chance moving half way across the planet only to find there is nothing wrong with you. That it was pure anthroplogy that was oppressing you.

Thanks, Galilit. I think that in large part you are absolutely right and there is some disconnect between her nature and the mores of the culture she happens to have been born into. There is also, I must admit, a disconnect between her nature and the family she has been born into. I need to be constantly on the alert to avoid sending her the message that there's something 'wrong' with her, anything more than there's something 'wrong' with me, we're just different (who am I kidding, there's all sorts of things wrong with me).

On the other hand, even if everyone's agreed there's nothing 'wrong' with her and it's all cultural, it's still the culture she lives in, and is going to grow up in. If she is going to be disadvantaged/judged/bullied in that culture because of the way she reacts to things going on around her, then learning to tone down these reactions will advantage her. But at what internal cost? Is this kind of what you are getting at?
 
Posted by Piglet (# 11803) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:
... approach the school and (non-accusatively) ask them to explain their decision in a bit more detail ...

I should state from the outset that I'm neither a parent nor a teacher, but it seems to me that you've more-or-less answered your own question. The school authorities will be the only people who can explain the whys and wherefores behind their decision, and I'd imagine that putting your concerns to them in a calm and non-accusatory way (preferably without your daughter being present, if it would be stressful for her) is by far the best way forward.

I wish you luck, and hope you and your daughter get the answers you need.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
FWIW, i jusr got back from school conferences where i asked (as neutrally as possible) why my own straight A student was being registered for general level classes next year instead of Honors. One teacher told me it was her belief that the selectors automatically assumed that any child with an IEP (individual educational plan, used for kids who have certain issues or disabilities) should automatically be placed in less challenging classes. It's sort of a kneejerk response. They promised to set it straight, as he did indeed meet the criteria for more challenging classes. But if i had never asked, nothing would have been done.
 
Posted by Belle Ringer (# 13379) on :
 
I had an eye opening experience in high school. I always enjoyed math and excelled at it. In Algebra 1, classmates were engaged with the material and the teacher and each other.

The 2nd year they assigned me to a class where everyone was sitting silent and head down. The teacher walked in, looking stern. Atmosphere was dismal. She handed out the text, General Math. I walked up to her and said I'm in the wrong class. She said "you were assigned here, so this is where you belong, sit down." I said I'm supposed to be in geometry. She asked "what grade did you get in algebra?" A+. She grudging agreed I might be in the wrong class.

What if I hadn't spoken up, what if she had dismissed my claim to have done well in Algebra, what if I'd been stuck there and my parents assumed the school knows what it is doing?

But mostly I grieve for those kids who felt defeated before the class even started. Not everyone will love math or history or mechanics or whatever, but no one should be put in a dismal atmosphere and then be expected to respond with interest and engagement in the materials.
 
Posted by RainbowGirl (# 18543) on :
 
Just a different perspective for you: I was a student who was continually put in classes below my own ability. The first few times it happened I was furious, but looking back it had been the right decision.

I was a quiet kid to start with and due to various circumstances was very close to being a selective mute by the time I hit my teens. I was anxious and had a tendency to just disappear on my teachers when things got too difficult emotionally. In a class filled with high achievers I could have, and would have left entirely. In such a class they may not have even noticed my absence. I think I was mainly kept in the general/low level classes so they had a better chance of keeping track of me.

It didn't prevent my academic achievements. It didn't matter what class I was in I consistently placed second in the year (first would have meant being dux and having to give an end of year speech, so I was very careful to never come overall first). I stayed in the mid-level/low-level classes until about year ten. The material was still the same, though dumbed down a bit. In years 11/12 when the material was different I did move into the upper level classes. In many ways I found the lower classes to be a boon as it gave me time to look into my own interests, and the teachers never minded as long as I was vaguely on topic. I still learned about failure and the need to work hard and apply myself, all those life lessons were there no matter what, there's always going to be that one thing that seems impossible.

By the time I'd finished my first year of uni I'd found my voice and you couldn't shut me up. I have a strong tendency to talk under wet concrete.

I can't speak to your own experience and your daughters, but it isn't always the end of the world to be placed in a class beyond your academic ability. It doesn't mean you are being told you are dumb or incapable, it just means that may suit you better.
 
Posted by Galilit (# 16470) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:
But at what internal cost? Is this kind of what you are getting at?

Kind of.
I think there is a degree of bad luck (misfortune) for those of us who find ourselves in a culture that does not cope well with us being ourselves. (Or a denomination/church for that matter!)

I hadnt really thought much past my own experience and a certain degree of "anti" about Aotearoa NZ to be honest

On sleeping on it ... I would try to explain to your daughter that there are different ways of being in the world (and reacting to it) based on our own personal psychology and neurology. But that there are also across the board cultural norms (stereotypes) within which we fit more or less well. This is the dance and, for some of us, our toes will be stepped on more often than not.

My own son (now 29) was in a similar bind. An intorvert and loner in a extrovert and group-oriented society. He is now much happier in A-NZ. I told him all along that he was fine (even loved) for his Way of Being in the World, our society was fine (fine-ish!) - it's just that it was uncomfortable for *him*.

There's not much you can actually do about it when they are minors because I don't imagine many people are willing to even recognise this kind of cultural mis-fit for what it is. A-NZ is so multi-culural and very aware and all ... but the personal aspects of behaviour you describe (and I experienced) do not come under that rubric. And you can't send a wee kiddie away to a "more suitable culture for their personality" without you and without the language either!

I only really understood it when met my partner and I moved here (aged 29)...

PS How funny to be able to share all this - chuckle chuckle to self...who'd have thought this insight would ever be of use to anyone else
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:

On the other hand, even if everyone's agreed there's nothing 'wrong' with her and it's all cultural, it's still the culture she lives in, and is going to grow up in. If she is going to be disadvantaged/judged/bullied in that culture because of the way she reacts to things going on around her, then learning to tone down these reactions will advantage her. But at what internal cost? Is this kind of what you are getting at?

On learning to tone down reactions-- it is possible to learn strategies for blending in better without surrendering one's own way of being. This gives a child more power, not less. With the new strategies, she can decide how she wants to convey her message and how she wants to affect her audience, and pick the communication style that gets that done.

For example, (this is totally random example here, bear with me!) if a child tends to have a meltdown with tears, howling, etc. when she gets a grade lower than expected on a paper, that communicates what she wants it to communicate (I'm not happy with this result) but it also does several things she probably does NOT want (causes classmates to shy away from her, puts a chill on her social life, disrupts class, makes teachers frustrated or even angry). If she can master other strategies (e.g. putting her upset into words, asking if she can have a do-over, even swearing!) she will still communicate her unhappiness but the collateral effects will change. (She may, for instance, wind up in detention for swearing, but gain the admiration of her classmates [Biased] ) Being able to control your social environment more precisely is more power, not less. And the original response (crying her eyes out) is still there if she ever wants to use it.

Which is all to say that a leopard doesn't have to change her spots, but if she's got a few extra pelts in the closet (striped, all-black) it'll do her no harm.
 
Posted by cliffdweller (# 13338) on :
 
anoesis, I sent you a pm with our experience, which seems weirdly similar. The anxiety, the night terrors-- all unfounded, he was doing quite well-- the general, constant misery 24/7. This went on for 2 years, during which I became increasingly concerned-- as did his teachers and school administrators. They seem much kinder and more involved than yours perhaps-- but just as clueless as we were about what to do.

For us, it took a change of schools. But it was weird-- to this day I don't think it was the school itself that made the difference (we went from a well-regarded public school to a almost-fundie private Christian school). I don't know for sure what it was-- a teacher perhaps, or (I suspect this may have been it): a group of friends he just happened to fall into.

I don't know what made the difference for our boy, but something did. He survived and is thriving today. But it was a very long haul. I suspect the teachers and administrators may be a clueless about this as I was-- we sure couldn't find anyone with any answers. So it may take trying different things and seeing what works. But I wouldn't keep going down the same path if that isn't proving to provide any relief.
 
Posted by anoesis (# 14189) on :
 
Thanks for your pm, Cliffdweller, I have read it. It certainly does help to know that other people have had anxious children who are nonetheless making their way in the world just fine as young adults. I sat down and tried to speak to her about her class and how she feels about it and her teacher today and I think I've established that she doesn't have any resentment about being in the class or feel passed over or anything like that, and she was reasonably unequivocal that she liked her teacher. So I don't think I can say that she's miserable at school on any overall level, just that it (like many things) sometimes makes her extremely upset. Which I think means that the right thing for me to do here is get alongside the teacher and advocate for her within the current situation. Hopefully I can do that without ruffling feathers and ultimately having a negative effect.
 
Posted by Athrawes (# 9594) on :
 
Another possibility is that she has been placed in that class because the teacher can manage the meltdowns and offer the most appropriate support. If you, as her mother, can find her meltdowns stressful, then a teacher with many demands on their time and emotions could well struggle with meeting the needs of your daughter, and the rest of the class.

As a teacher who has taught children like your daughter, I would be very happy to have a parent ask what support the school can offer, and what they can do at home to support. Certainly there are strategies that your daughter can learn which might help her manage her emotions. I really hope you do get support from the school, and that your daughter fulfils her potential, regardless.
 
Posted by Curiosity killed ... (# 11770) on :
 
Sometimes it's the judgement of the teachers. My daughter is bright but severely dyslexic. She had a very inexperienced teacher in her year 4 who put her in the bottom group for everything and wondered why her behaviour wasn't great. It was bad enough to trigger an ed psych referral and the dyslexia diagnosis.

Her year 5 teacher in the same school, with much more experience, put my daughter in the top groups for everything and supported her spelling difficulties. (She could read OK - I was reading fairly interesting stuff at home as bedtime books, which she read along with.)

Remedial secondary English was proof-reading and rewriting the same piece of work for months. She kept turning it back in worse, because she really can't see spellings. She timed things in minuets for years, which used to make me giggle and demonstrate when I proof read it for her.

Socially she ended up with the other misfits in school, found a dramatic way of opting out of her last two years of secondary school and started making friends at Sixth Form college. She has a crowd of friends now, both fellow post-grad students and gamers.

The mental health guys said that she would find it easier to make friends when she moved into higher education and it's been true.
 
Posted by Smudgie (# 2716) on :
 
As a teacher (mainstream and SEN) and a parent of an anxious child, I would say that the effectiveness of the scenario you are describing would depend greatly on the general environment of the school and the proficiency of the teacher of her group. Please don't assume that the class the pupil is in is a "dumping ground". Many schools, especially secondary, have what are more commonly described as "nurture groups" and do precisely that. They teach each child at the level that they are at academically, but nurture skills such as resilience in a more protected environment.

No child can learn successfully if they are distressed. The work you have done at home shows that your daughter can overcome her fears, but needs very individualised support and encouragement to do so. Put her in the more pressured environment of a large and academically able class and it may be that she would sink without trace, and as she's getting older the worst case scenario would be bullying as children are often merciless with a peer who can easily be reduced to tears. It's wrong, but it's also all too often true.

My own son was quite vulnerable when we moved to outer London from the quiet sanctuary of the Isle of Wight and he found himself moving into quite a "rugged" comprehensive and, although academically able, he failed to thrive. Eventually I took him out and managed to get him into a school which prided itself on nurture. Academically the school population were not high achievers and he did need to give himself the push (or rather, his interfering mother did [Biased] ) to stretch himself to his potential, but he was achieving so much more within weeks, simply due to the nurturing and supportive and individualised approach of the new school. So don't be in a rush to hustle your daughter out of an environment where she says she is happy and which might actually be enabling her to make far more of her potential than in the competitive and less compassionate environment of a higher ability class. As has been said before, work with the school on this one.

Resilience does grow steadily with maturity, but I don't believe it's always taught by dropping people in at the deep end. Sink or swim - some people do swim and gain resilience by doing so, but some people sink and the damage done by that experience can be life-long. As said before, resilience comes better if you teach strategies outside the threatening environment and she begins to see them being effective in controlling the outcome. Keeping a diary of her successes can be helpful in this, as can discussing "worst case scenarios" as in "what is the worst thing that can happen if you fail this test?" and helping her realise that, actually, in the big picture, the world will not come to an end.
 
Posted by Piglet (# 11803) on :
 
It may also be a question of where and when an individual child will "flourish".

I'm reminded of the story of someone we knew in Northern Ireland, when they still had the 11+. He didn't make the grade to get into his local grammar school, but was very philosophical about it; I remember saying to him that perhaps he'd be happier at the top of the class in a comprehensive than struggling in a grammar school, and he agreed. He did very well in his first year, and was able to transfer to the grammar school, where he excelled and went on to university.

He did all right for himself - he's now a Precentor at Westminster Abbey.
 


© Ship of Fools 2016

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0