LQ and the link to Resilience
Not everything in life goes to plan every time, there are times you are left wondering what went wrong.
Strangely, unlike learning, we don’t always see it as a personal weakness or a failing in our abilities. We find it easy to identify the reasons why things are difficult or hard to accomplish and often the finger points away from us and to other things. Why then in learning do we so easily accept that it is our fault when we cannot learn something, that we must be stupid or something? If we do go finger pointing then it is normally at the teacher, it is their fault because they are a poor teacher.
The thing about finger pointing is it gets you no further along the learning pathway.
What if you had an independent coach, somebody who could objectively reflect on the situation and who knows you and your learning needs? It would be nice, if like top sports men and women, we could have our own coach to watch over us and advise us how to get the best out of our performance or how to play a particular opponent in order to succeed. With LQ you have!
Resilience is the ability to adapt to adverse situations we encounter in everyday challenges, to “bounce back” when knocked down or back as a result of an experience. Here once again the analogy with sports is most apt. Losing one race does not make you a bad runner, struggling to jump higher or further does not make you a bad jumper. Perhaps it is giving in and finger pointing that makes you a bad runner or jumper!
Think of LQ as your own personal coach, somebody to encourage you and to provide the objectivity you need in order to move forward. LQ goes a little further though because it is an internal process and one to which you have to give thought and energy to. The rewards though can be very empowering. Firstly you learn to recognise that something is beginning to challenge you much earlier because you are an active participant and not just a passive observer in the learning. Next comes the objectivity aspect of LQ and resilience, looking around at your learning environment you will begin to assess what it is about it that is impacting negatively on or impeding your learning. You will need to do this without emotion, to involve emotion will cloud your judgement and often limits your resilience. For example I have known people want to go give up after achieving more than half a task. Objectivity would recommend a short rest and recognise there is now less to do and having done more than half it is possible to finish. Emotions will endeavour to override this view and suggest things are too difficult, it was an impossible task in the first place, it will take too long to finish and many other masking examples of “negative self-talk”.
An important lesson to learn here is that learning requires effort. Perhaps less effort for some than others at times but we all have to make an effort in order to learn. There are many examples of where people have achieved mastery not just through talent or ability but with a great deal of effort too. It is part of the equation: success = effort x ability. Think of effort as the verb of resilience. Effort can make up for a lack of natural ability and often does. What many learners do not recognise is that the degree of effort can be a variable, greater at the start of learning something new and less as they gain understanding. Resilience is improved if we recognise this simple truth. It is worth looking up Carol Dweck’s work on attribution theory. You can find further details here as part of a “Prezi” I put together along with further references and background research for the concept of LQ.
Breaking the link of being able to affect the success of trying to learn because of some innate or unchangeable ability is a key element in developing resilience. Once there is realisation that outcome is related to effort and can be affected by altering the effort then there is reason to try. In doing so we are also beginning to understand an element of motivation.
Rewards and Resilience
A cautionary note, do not seek to reinforce resilience with reward as the path leads to ever increasing degrees of reward and ultimately bargaining about the reward before making any effort. Here again LQ can help. The reward of using LQ is an internal one, of overcoming personal challenges and does not seek to involve third party incentives.
What this means for the Teacher
- When praising students praise the effort and the strategy not the person.
- Talk about the challenge of learning and discuss the learning equation (success = effort x talent or ability)
- Encourage positive self-talk and objectivity when reviewing work with students
- Use examples of where people have been successful despite the trials they have faced. You can relate learning to the “hero’s journey” concept used in many children’s tales.
- Talk about being brave and about finding learning strategies to overcome challenges
What this means for the Learner
- Learning can be an effort, difficult and sometimes appear impossible. That is okay, we all feel like that at times even if we do not show it. Be brave and get the personal rewards that come from achieving something yourself.
- Use what you know to learn what you don’t know. This should give you the confidence to have a go because you already know something about what you are trying to learn.
- Find out what is hindering your learning, think about your learning needs and how to meet them. Would it help to discuss it with somebody? Do you need time just to think things through? What questions have you got?
- Recognise that you can learn from your mistakes, they are just steps on the road to success. Some people have more steps or make smaller steps than others that is all.
I hope you are enjoying the articles on LQ and sharing them with colleagues and friends. Please remember challenge helps to hone arguments and ideas so leave a comment when you feel able to.
This is the tenth article in the series on LQ with the first being published on August 11th.