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DeVos, Politics and Resiliency: Meeting the Agenda of Special Education

I have, as have many of you, been observing the clamor, crying, arguing and name calling surrounding this country’s current political antics. Hey, I don’t even have to mention a particular group to know you have one in mind. But it is not just one, it is many and that is my concern.

So, why the title (DeVos, Politics and Resiliency)? So, I could get your attention.  Here is my real concern and the reason for this blog.

If you ask any parent what they want most for their child, or even what any politician wants for America’s children it is likely to be some form of being productive (and maybe happy) citizens who contribute to the betterment of our country.  Sounds good. Maybe a little political, but nice.  We would also like our youth to be resilient in the face of adversities—from not getting an extra slice of pizza for dinner to dealing with struggles of accomplishing something they really want, to dealing with bullies. And here is the point of this blog.

As I’ve read Facebook and LinkedIn posts, concerns for children and their ability to deal with school issues (of almost any kind) are surfacing more and more. It’s not called resiliency by name, at least not always, but that is what it is.  For example, “My child says he being bullied and now refuses to go to school.” Or, “My daughter can’t seem to master subtraction and is devastated.” Or, “My son feels totally rejected because he could not sit next to his best friend at lunch today.”  Some of you might even relate to one of these or be laughing to yourself because not sitting next to your friend at lunch is NOT the end of the world. Actually, none of these three scenarios is the end of to the world, unless…

Unless, we fail to present ourselves as models of resilience to our children, even if it is not our nature to do so.  Why? So, that our children can see how we successfully deal with things that do not go our way. I mean from making stupid mistakes like sitting at the wrong gate for your flight and realizing it with only 5 minutes to spare. (No, I am not admitting to having done this…recently) to feeling the world had come to an end because of some decision being made that was not in our interest. Or, to what I am seeing now with the furor of anger and hostility against present political actions—regardless of which side you are on.  So, what has politics got to do with DeVos and resiliency you are wondering? It has to do with the following.

At one end, I’ve seen where parents have asked outright for assistance on how to teach their children to be resilient (whether they used the word or not) and it’s a fair question.  I know firsthand, as many of you do, when I failed to be resilient and the outcomes it led to.  Sadly, I did not have early guidance with how to deal with adversities, but leaned it over time. And I learned that failures are the teachings and opportunities of learning how to cope with them—to be resilient.  And I learned that failures do not make the person. What makes the person, as a result of experienced failures, is what one does once faced with an obstacle.

We can teach children how to be resilient. And we can teach them how to deal with failures by allowing failures to occur and then after consoling them—meaning that we can identify with what it might feel like—we ask how they might deal with it differently than then presently did.  Or, how they will deal with those feelings, should that or a similar experience happen again. And then we need to assure them that failings will happen. They happen to all of us. So, we prepare them for the next one and they will figure out from enough experiences how to better cope with not getting everything they wanted.

Why, again, am I writing this? Because I have recently seen adults—intelligent and otherwise productive citizens—who are perfect role models for what resiliency is not. Who have injured other people physically, damaged property, resorted to horrific name calling and who refused to work in the name of…well, I’m no longer certain what the name is, but I know this: These people are not resilient. They are incapable at this moment of being productive and contributing to the country, much less being happy. Do those words sound familiar? They should; they were at the beginning of this blog.

And they, those people, are failing to achieve what we hope all citizens can be. And this is why, it is so important for us to teach our children how to face minor “traumas” (such as getting the second piece of candy) in our lives in preparation for the larger ones (an illness, a hurricane, or losing a family member).

Let the failures become the learning experiences of success. Model resiliency so that as adults your children can weather the little and big things and measure who they are on how they handle adversities and not, instead, be absorbed into them.

As for DeVos, she is but a present complication.  She is not the end of the world.  We are resilient people and so let’s be resilient and continue to move forward with the agenda of meeting our children’s needs.


  • Stephanie Crist

    Insightful, as always. Your post made me think back to the news stories of college students needing trauma counselors because Trump won the election and how astonishing that was to me. But you did an excellent job of breaking the issue down further.

    Resiliency is one of those life skills we all have to learn, because when we don’t the relatively little things add up until they do become devastating and the truly devastating things shatter us completely. And it’s important to realize and recognize that resiliency is a learned skill and not a talent that is given to some, but not to others.

    It seems like a great many of us need to brush up on our resiliency. We’d accomplish a lot more if we learned to work together, instead of being devastated by the decisions of others.