Unlike Downey's article which is a thorough review of the relevant literature that concludes with the author's synthesis of appropriate recommendations that could be implemented in a classroom-based setting, this article by Darlene is mostly a plain review rather than an analysis of the literature. One confounding aspect is the discussion of studies that report that resilient children have, "traits in common such as higher intelligence, lower thrill seeking, lower associations with delinquent peers, and an absence of anti-social behaviours, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency" [Darlene Brackenreed (2010), pg 4] Does this mean that personal traits are as important as providing caring adult support?
The article however, does point out some valid points as mentioned above. The article concludes with a discussion of personal life experiences of the author, which though stated with a view to provide an example of the hardships that a student from a disadvantaged family experiences, makes the article more of a life story and a general social discussion of the disadvantaged children. The one point the author stresses much in this article however, is the important role of the teacher as a model citizen, sensitive to the needs of the pupil. In her own life she stresses how she was fortunate to have understanding teachers and how it helped her to succeed in her academic pursuits in spite of her troubled family environment and personal life. A positive interventional model as opposed to a deficit model involving a proactive approach from the teachers and the academic community is stressed. [Darlene Brackenreed, (2010)]
It is surprising to see that both the above-discussed articles failed to stress the UN convention on the rights of child considering the significant positive impact it could have in protecting children from violent experiences during their young age. And as Covell K. & Howe (2009) discuss in their book, "Punitive responses to problem of violent children are not effective. In schools, commonly used strategies such as expulsions, suspensions and zero -- tolerance policies have had little if any impact on reducing violence among school children." [Covell K. & Howe (2009), pg 12] the authors of this book on children's rights stress how educating parents and children about the child's rights would provide them the much-needed security by elevating "the status of children to persons with rights ." [Covell K. & Howe (2009), pg 19] This appreciation of child rights was emphasized in an early research by the same authors. Covell K. & Howe (2001), in their study 'Moral education through the 3 Rs: Rights respect and responsibility' showed that creating awareness among school children about their rights creates a positive impact and improves their educational resiliency. The researcher's developed a 'Rights curriculum' (as under the UN convention) and implemented it in health and social studies classes for Grade 8 students (age 13 to 15) in five different schools over a period of 6 months and assessed the effect. As the authors report, "Assessment of the impact of the rights curriculum showed that, when compared with their peers who did not receive the rights curriculum, the adolescents who did indicated higher levels of self-esteem, perceived peer and teacher support and increased rights-respecting attitudes." [Covell K. & Howe (2001)] This research makes it clear that academic curriculum should incorporate lessons related to the Child rights as it increases the self-esteem and keeps the children knowledgeable about their rights and how to better manage their problems when their basic rights are violated.
Education is a basic right of every child in the world and it is the responsibility of the government and academic policy makers to ensure that every child is entitled to quality education. Children coming from adverse and violent family backgrounds invariably suffer in their academic performance that has severe and direct repercussions for their future. Given the disparity in the socio economic backgrounds and the varied environments in which children grow up, some children are at a natural disadvantage. However, as the studies discussed above have shown, even children from these difficult life environments can defy all odds stacked against them and be successful in their academic pursuit. As Downey, J. (2008), reported, many factors ranging from 'rapport between students and teachers', 'classroom ambience', improved 'instructional strategies' and development of 'student skills' are known to contribute to this educational resilience exhibited by students who hail from adverse environmental settings. Also, as Darlene Brackenreed (2010) opines, teachers who are affable, understanding and listening are indispensable to improve the educational resiliency among the at risk children. Following a deficit model is bound to fail. Also, simple curriculum modifications will not provide the results. Students need the support implemented in their every day classrooms. A classroom-based approach where all the recommended principles and teaching methodologies are applied on a day-to-day basis is necessary to build educational resilience among children.
1) Downey, J. (2008). Recommendations for Fostering Educational Resilience in the Classroom. Preventing School Failure, 53(1), 56-64. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database