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Resilient Students in U.S. Fall Below Average

June 27, 2011

For as long as there have been moving pictures, Hollywood has enraptured our hearts by scripting films based on true stories of perseverance. Our should I say “resilience.” According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a resilient child is one “who rises from a background of poverty to become a highly successful adult.”

A recent study by the OECD found that resilient students “tend to devote more time to class, and they tend to report feeling more motivated and confident in their ability to succeed than less-resilient students…For example, resilient students were 10 to 20 percent more likely than less resilient students to say they understood science concepts easily and quickly and were confident of their ability to answer correctly on tests.”

Unfortunately, the number of resilient stories that inspire Hollywood scripts is falling. According to this article in Education Week, “the United States ranks uncomfortably below the OECD average in the percentage of poor children who are resilient to their situation. While more than 70 percent of children born in poverty in Shanghai and Hong Kong are winning upward academic mobility, fewer than 30 percent of American children are on track to achieve that traditionally American dream.”

Resilient student rankings according to the OECD

It appears we’re failing as a society to educate our underprivileged youth. Not just in the traditional sense of academic achievement, but in promoting the long-term value of that achievement. We live in an era where YouTube fame and superficial stardom are worshipped more highly than creating real value for society. So it’s no wonder that underprivileged kids see more hope in escaping poverty by seeking celebrity success over academic achievement. Which would support why the percentage of our resilient youth is so much lower than our friends in China.

To fix this dilemma, we must completely overhaul our education system. And not just how or what we teach inside the classroom, but how we promote the value of school outside the classroom. In essence, learning needs to be rebranded from every angle. But that’s much easier said than done.

How do you think we should re-emphasize the importance of school to our youth?

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