International Education Journal

Educational Research Conference 2006 and Cultural Inclusivity through Publishing Special Issue



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Teachers' (mis)understandings of resilience 

Deborah Green 
University of South Australia 

Murray Oswald 
University of South Australia 

Barbara Spears 
University of South Australia 


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This study aimed to extend previous studies into resilience, by identifying the roles that teachers played in fostering resilience (N=57: females n=43; and males n=14). A quantitative scale was administered to teachers in South Australia's Catholic education sector to determine the extent to which they were involved in fostering resilience. A qualitative questionnaire followed which determined teachers' understanding of this phenomenon. The latter results suggested that teachers may be able to describe readily those circumstances which place any child 'at risk' (e.g. poverty) but they failed to recognise that those children identified as resilient also experienced circumstances in which they are potentially 'at risk'. Instead, teachers appeared to be describing some children as 'resilient' on the basis of displaying competence in coping generally but not because of experiencing 'at risk' life circumstances. This paper argues that teachers may be confusing the profile of a competent student: one who does not have 'at-risk' circumstances, with that of a resilient one, who also manages competently despite the 'at risk' circumstances in their lives. Recognising these differences is considered essential for teachers to be able to identify those children requiring intervention and support both at the personal, interpersonal, social and emotional levels. 

Resilience, non-resilience, 'at risk', teachers' attitudes


 Green, D., Oswald, M. and Spears, B. (2007) Teachers' (mis)understandings of resilience. International Education Journal, 8 (2), 133-144.

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