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Resilience: To Succeed in Spite of Difficulties (Part One)

Updated on September 4, 2012

In this article we discuss resilience. The concept was used a long time ago and for a broad range of phenomena in the English language literature. Because resilience plays an important role in schools and schools can do a lot for the development of resilience, it is useful to discuss it in detail.

What is resilience?

The concept has no single, universally accepted definition. Masten (2002), one of the major researchers of the topic, finds the last two criteria indispensable to define the essential concepts:

- The individual copes well in his life,

- Currently or previously he or she is / was exposed to high risk or difficulties.

Masten (1997) and her research team define resilience as a process, ability or the outcome of successful adaptation, despite challenging or threatening circumstances. She views resilience as a kind of everyday or ordinary magic, considering it as an achievable object in most cases. The adjustment process is the key, according to her.She describes those processes most damaging to development, which are hindering the normative operation of essential human adaptation processes.Fundamental human adaptive systems are defined as follows: the attachment relationship, an individual's learning and problem-solving skills, the functioning of self-regulating systems, self-efficacy, the functioning of the family system, organizations of the wider community, religious and cultural traditions (Masten, 2002).

Other authors define the concept of resilience otherwise. The International Resilience Project's definition stresses a human ability that allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimize or overcome the damaging effects of different adversities (Grotberg, 1995, 1997 / a and b).Skehill (2001) suggests in her study that the majority of researchers who have addressed the issue, and agree that the concept can be described with specific outcomes regarding the mental health and the social environment. Nelles (unpublished) gives a negative definition: resilience is the lack of disorders, adjustment problems and diseases.All in all, the definitions of resilience have certain common points. Each author emphasizes the adverse conditions, problems or the existence of risk factors.Risk-free or low-risk environment and / or conditions make resilience neither possible nor necessary (Smokowski et al, 1999).Resilience is based on exposure to risk and not the avoidance of it (Jenkins, Keating, 1998).In this kind of situation, the individual develops a characteristic way of coping, which, if successful, will be used for future situations as well (Skehill, 2001).An accepted view is also the existence of competence, positive developmental outcomes, the appropriate level of adaptation and integration or age-appropriate solving of various developmental tasks (Spaccarelli and Kim, 1995).


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