We are capable of more than what we probably think we are capable of sustaining. Researchers Aknin, Zaki and Dunn conducted a review of close to 1,000 research studies examining hundreds of thousands of people across nearly 100 countries and they came to a conclusion:
We are remarkably adept at finding solutions to what might appear to be insurmountable problems.
THE MENTAL HEALTH CHECK
You’ve probably heard that the coronavirus pandemic triggered a worldwide mental-health crisis. This narrative took hold almost as quickly as the virus itself. In the spring of 2020, article after article—even an op-ed by one of us—warned of a looming psychological epidemic.
As clinical scientists and research psychologists have pointed out, the coronavirus pandemic has created many conditions that might lead to psychological distress: sudden, widespread disruptions to people’s livelihoods and social connections; millions bereaved; and the most vulnerable subjected to long-lasting hardship. A global collapse in well-being has seemed inevitable.
Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki and Elizabeth Dunn, The Atlantic (July 2021)
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.
But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?
We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes, being in outdoor classrooms, or taking field trips to the beach or old growth forests all are great experiences. But, I haven’t seen the empirical evidence to support that notion.
Now, three researchers have reviewed hundreds of other studies to find an answer to the question of whether being in nature makes a difference to learning.
October 10th is World Mental Health Day (sponsored by the World Health Organization – WHO). What a great day to talk about RESILIENCE and its importance in providing students with a pathway to success.
When I went through teacher training I learned about a number things like lesson construction, effective assessments and curriculum content. We didn’t spend a lot of time learning about student resilience — in fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even mentioned. And that’s probably because it wasn’t a concept being discussed among educators 30 years ago. I doubt that you could find one that incorporated it into the recipe for student success.
Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; personal toughness or the ability to bounce back.
What I’ve discovered over my career is that a student’s success is intimately linked to their ability to withstand disappointment, failure or setbacks. Their resilience is a critical part of their success story.