Individuals and communities

Resilience is more than teaching resilient skills, although the teaching of generic skills does play an important role. The wider environment also has a major impact on how resilient people are, as studies of children raised in adverse conditions have discovered. This is the case for both major adverse events and for day-to-day hassles. However, due to the nature of academic buoyancy these skills are going to be different, as is the support required to help students get past these seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Children and adults are not too dissimilar; in order to thrive they both need support from other people and cope better when their daily lives are somewhat routine and predictable. When change does occur and the body reacts to deal with it (the basic premise of stress), people need to know that they can cope psychologically with the pressure but also understand that they don't need to try and cope alone. Societal institutions that are supportive and free from bullying, coercion and manipulation are more likely to thrive, in part because the workforce (or student body) feels safe, secure and part of a wider supportive community.

At the same time, however, we face a somewhat paradoxical situation where predictability encourages uncertainty and risk aversion. This need for cognitive closure restricts the ability to cope when things don't go according to plan. There is, therefore, a need to incorporate an element of uncertainty into any intervention. Similarly, ambiguity can lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety but if experienced gradually and regularly within a supportive environment, individuals become better equipped to cope with uncertainly and find a way through it, often in highly creative ways.

Often, our descriptions are based on statistical analysis of, for example, averages, trends and correlations. Such data is essential if we are to understand something about populations, be it certain school cohorts or much wider demographics such as the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds who voted for a particular political party. But we also need to consider individual differences, such as identifying students' individual stress triggers and at what point these situations begin to overwhelm.

The introduction of the academic buoyancy construct into the educational sphere has allowed for the more precise examination of academic based resilience, that is, it has extracted from wider resilience research those elements that are only relevant to educational settings. Together with the identification of the principal qualities at the foundation of the construct (the 5Cs) we are presented with the opportunity to disentangle one from the other and apply our efforts to specific relevant areas. The 5C-plus model takes the individual-centred components of the academic buoyancy model and recognises the influence of factors within the wider environment. These factors are encapsulated in a sixth C - community.

Main points

  • • Academic buoyancy can be distinguished from general resilience by its emphasis on small-scale daily setbacks that occur in educational settings rather than major adversity, such as that experienced by children being raised in extreme poverty.
  • • The identification of the 5Cs of academic buoyancy provides the opportunity to break down interventions into distinct areas that can be tackled independently.
  • • A sixth C (community) emphasises the role of the wider environment, including school culture, support mechanism, values and expectations.


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