At The Harbour School, there are seven learner goals that blanket all aspects of our curricula: perceptive, inquisitive, self-determined, integrated within yourself, integrated among others, resilient, and innovative. As educators, we expect to foster these characteristics in all of our students as they grow over the years at THS. The learner goals are not specific to a given subject matter. Instead, they are about learning how to learn and to have the traits needed to succeed no matter the circumstances, be it in or outside school, or later in life.
Many opportunities to develop these skills occur naturally in the process of interacting with various activities that are tied to our curricula and subjects at THS. Some learner goals will be practiced less often due to the natural variation of units of study, lessons, and contingencies. The learner goal of resilience is one that requires a bit of engineering, not to mention time and effort to establish. Under normal school conditions, circumstances may not require flexibility from most students. Most students can go with the flow without much effort.
Subsequently, teachers will deliberately seek to create learning opportunities through teachable moments and through the use of incidental teaching tactics. However, when a major curveball from the outside is thrust upon us, without warning, we are presented with the true test of resilience.
Behavioral or psychological resilience is the ability to cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly and to develop resistance to the negative effects of stressors according to Wikipedia. The present coronavirus situation in Hong Kong and subsequent effects to the THS and TCI school programmes have been an enormous stressor. To combat this situation our entire school community has made a herculean effort to continue the learning process. Hercules was a seriously tough dude. When he was just a baby, Zeus’s jealous wife Hera sent two serpents to his crib to kill him. Baby Hercules killed them both!
Hercules was so strong that when he was tested during his Twelve Labors, he killed a lion, a hydra, and brought Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the underworld, all the way back up to Earth, so that he could free his cousin, Theseus, from the Chair of Forgetfulness where he had been bound. This was thought to be impossible. Indeed, people who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
While we are far from fighting giant three-headed guard dogs here in Hong Kong, I am in awe of the many acts of great strength and resilience that I have observed throughout our school community in dealing with the present situation. Administrators, educators, and parents have been steadfast in their support of one another and our students. The VC@T system had taken an enormous effort to get off the ground, and it continues to work exceptionally well to keep the learning going and keep the school year on track. Our parents, teachers, and most of all, students have shown great resilience during this challenging time.
It is essential for us grownups to model calm, flexible, and positive behavior. The children will imitate our behaviors and mood whether we are aware of this or not. We must use humour and other techniques to stay positive and keep each of our morale up. The Study Break video from Dr. Elizabeth Micci and the THS teachers is just one example of how creativity paired with good old fashioned humour can lift our spirits and distract from the tension outside of our doors. Now that the weather has improved, explore the great outdoors. Get outside and move. Movement has immeasurable benefits to our health and well-being.
While each of us might not be as strong as the great Hercules, together we can defeat the lion, the hydra, and that mean old nasty three-headed guard dog of the underworld or whatever gets in the way of our students and their learning.