Resilient students : KEDO boys crack HSLC exam

Dr Sarungbam Gunadhor *

Two students from Manipur - Kharibam Sureshkumar, son of Kh Shyam from Uchiwa Mayai Leikai (Student of Thounaojam Ibobi Memorial English School), Uchiwa; Longjam Bitankumar son of L Joykumar from Sabungkhok Makha Leikai (student of Tongou High School, Yaingangpokpi) are members of Kanglei Economic Development Organization (KEDO); and from Telangana - Avula Durgaprasad son of Mohan Reddy and Narasamma are all 'resilient students'.

Sureshkumar passed the HSLC Examination 2022 in 1st Division, while Bitankumar cleared the same in 3rd Division; and Durgaprased topped JEE Main 2022, with 96.48 per cent and cleared his SSC with 940 marks in Intermediate.

Regarding their family background, as reported, Sureshkumar has been tending the wares of vendors at Imoinu Keithel (market), Imphal, at night and selling Papad in his free time; Bitankumar has been taking care of goods of vendors at Lamlong Keithel (market), Imphal, along with his father at night; and Durgaprasad is also from a poor family.

All of them are from low socio economic backgrounds, but their respective academic performance is concrete evidence of 'educational elasticity' proposed by Renato Pedrosa, and his co-workers in 2006. It may be noted that in most research studies, students from high socio economic backgrounds, from a good school, or institution, better performed academically than their counterparts from low socioeconomic backgrounds or institutions.

In contrast, Pedrosa in their study on social and educational background among graduate students in a Brazilian research university found that those students who mostly come from deprived socio economic and educational backgrounds performed comparatively better than others coming from higher socio economic and educational area. They named such a phenomenon 'educational elasticity' (i.e., the ability to change and adapt), also called 'educational resilience' or 'academic resilience'.

What is educational resilience?

Resilience, in short, refers to the ability to overcome adverse life events. Educational or academic resilience is the capacity to adapt well when faced with adversity, stress or pressure in academic settings. This definition itself could be applied to Sureshkumar, Bitankumar, and Durgaprasad. Among them, Durgaprasad's case may be noted, in which, as reported, Durgaprasad's father Reddy was a peasant who wed Narasamma (mother) despite knowing she was bom blind.

Above all, it would be heartbreaking to learn that Durgaprasad took the JEE Main test the same day his beloved poor blind mother passed away, with a heavy heart. It was because of their resilience that the three adolescent young boys could accomplish their respective goals, though affected academically by their family conditions.

It suggested that they were able to stave off the potential negative psychological effects of challenging experiences; they could interpret academic or social challenges in a positive way; they displayed the courage and motivation to face problems and difficulties accurately and maintained a positive mindset and the confidence to preserve, and so on. They were really 'resilient students' and their resilience could be a model for all children and adolescent girls and boys.

Resilient and Non-Resilient Students

Resilient Students: Studies found some of the following characteristics and factors that have been present in resilient children:
An 'internal locus of control', with a sense of purpose, challenge, commitment, responsibility and independence

Assertiveness and problem-solving abilities

A proactive, achievement-oriented nature, the ability to plan and have aspirations
The ability to construe their experiences positively and constructively
A positive self-concept
A sense of coherence
A sense of autonomy, spirituality, emotional stability [Physical well-being, cognitive competencies
Identification with competent role models
Attractiveness to peers and adults
Competence (socially), perceived efficacy
Community, nurturance, socialization
A stable care-giving environment (good child-parent relationship)

In a nutshell, resilient students are defined as those who are able to obtain good academic results despite coming from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background. On the other hand, non-resilient students can be described th,e opposite of resilient students.

Characteristics of Low Resilience

Studies described the characteristics of low resilience -quick anger, trouble sleeping, isolation, too dependent, moodiness, easily depressed and crying, poor memory, lack of hope, disappointment, aggressive, tiredness, indigestion and nausea, headaches, more indecisive, hard to concentrate, more confused than usual, feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, poorer team performance, dissatisfaction or complaints, less motivated or committed, having extreme negative reactions to making mistakes, and more.

What Causes Lack of Resilience?

Studies reported several causes of lack of or low resilience. Among them, what we may consider is: not experiencing hardships and adversities. Resilience is crucial for withstanding hardships, challenges, and stressors that one may encounter throughout life. Someone who has not gone through many hardships might not be as resilient as someone who has.

But it does not mean that undergoing terrible experiences is a requirement for gaining strong resilience. However, those that have experienced troublesome times and survived tend to "bounce back" repeatedly.

Other causes are: poor physical, mental, and emotional health; a negative outlook on life; not having any goals; not learning from mistakes; ignoring problems rather than addressing them; not accepting change; among others (citation needed).

Importance of Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands(citation needed).

Resilience is important for several reasons; it enables us to develop mechanisms for protection against experiences that could be overwhelming, helps us to maintain balance in our lives during difficult or stressful periods, and it can protect us from the development of some mental health difficulties and issues (citation needed).

It is true that people with resilience tend to have a higher tolerance for the emotional distress generated by hard times. The more resilient one is, the better she or he is able to tolerate the feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness that accompany trauma and adversity, and find a way to rebound from setbacks.

Development of Resilience

Resilience is not a character trait that children are born with and they either have and do not have, but a developmental process that involves behaviors, thoughts, life experiences, and actions that can be learned and developed in everyone (citation needed).

Many studies have explored which elements increase resilience in vulnerable children and a good deal of suggestions have been made in this regard, such as having family relationship, supportive teachers, participation in co-curricular activities, caring parents, fostering a sense of achievement in children, enhancing children's personal growth, increasing their social contacts, affectional ties with family, and experiencing hardships and adversities. But human relationships are the most critical factor in student resiliency. Finally, school being a formal social institutions has

a lot to be done for development of resilience in children. But it would be almost impossible to do so till the present practice of the exam/mark-oriented system of education is completely abolished.

What is the most important that a school should realize is the fact that SCHOOL PLAYGROUND is the BIRTH PLACE of HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT of children- resilience;
learning patience, perseverance, how to cope with frustration;
healthy brain development;
practicing empathy and expressing thoughts and ideas;
sublimation of all instincts; positive attitudes towards challenges and adversities;
critical thinking skills;
self-esteem; to name just a few.

Hence, school should never underestimate this fact. In this regard, attention of policymakers is highly called for. Conclusion For Sureshkumar, Bitankumar, and Durgaprasad, RESILIENCE was really a "Guru" (teacher) who taught them the ability to cope with stress, overcome adversity, and enjoy the better days to come.

Their courage, determination, commitment, adaptation, perseverance, patience, and true character of a human being, deserve high appreciation. They have taught a good lesson to all students that ACCOMPLISHMENT is not the question of "Haves" and "Have-Nots", but of PERSEVERENCE. "May Success Be With You All!"

* Dr Sarungbam Gunadhor wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a retired teacher Singjamei Mayengbam Leikai, Imphal
This article was posted on August 12, 2022.

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