Tag Archives: successful schools

LSS: Buoyancy and beyond


That, in a word, is what I want children — my own and rest of the masses out there — to be. May they be blessed with whatever it is that creates that upward force within.

Because they’re going to fail.

And failing is important. If they don’t fail, they don’t learn that failing isn’t a forever thing. If you think about life as an addition problem, you might think of it in one of the following two ways:

Encouragement + effort = success


Encouragement + effort = failure

In reality, I don’t believe it’s either of those. Life is rarely a series of individual equations. Instead, life is a series of events that build on each other. It’s more like this:

encouragement + effort = failure + buoyancy + effort = success + encouragement + effort = failure + buoyancy + effort = success”»

And the math equation keeps going.

Rather than being the problem, failure is a necessary and important part of the equation that eventually leads to success as the sum of the parts. The math breaks down, when buoyancy isn’t there. Sometimes our kids (and even our friends) stop the math equation short and end at failure.

So, the big question is, how do we as parents and as a society — teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, and cousins, each and every one of us — foster buoyancy? Maybe you call it resilience. That works too. How do we foster resilience? No doubt many research papers have been written on that topic, but fostering buoyancy in children comes down to creating a loving environment and building them up as best we can. One of the primary issues is that every child doesn’t come from a home where someone has the time, energy or inclination to consider how to foster resilience or build up that child.

“Research suggests that when schools are places where the basic human needs for support, respect, and belonging are met, motivation for learning is fostered,” wrote Bonnie Benard at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in a piece on building resilience in children.

She continues, “Reciprocal caring, respectful and participatory relationships are the critical determining-factors in whether a student learns; whether parents become and stay involved in the school; whether a program or strategy is effective; whether an educational change is sustained; and, ultimately, whether a youth feels he or she has a place in this society. When a school redefines its culture by building a vision and commitment on the part of the whole school community that is based on these three critical factors of resilience, it has the power to serve as a ‘protective shield’ for all students and a beacon of light for youth from troubled homes and impoverished communities.”

And that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Our community has spent a lot of time, energy and discussion on what to do to help our schools. And just because they’ve failed in the past doesn’t mean the equation stops. Maybe the answer goes back to Archimedes’ Principal: An object (immersed in a fluid) is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

Somehow those able have to create environments capable of buoying up a child at home, and the schools are left with the lion’s share of the rest of that job — and that is no easy task. The community can help turn a community’s equation around by building up schools, educators and the children they serve who need help staying afloat.