What a busy start to the second semester we have had! Immediately we found ourselves faced with challenges; combating illness and navigating an ever-changing landscape. But amidst this, it has been heart-warming to see the courage the children continue to display. This courage has presented itself in varying forms.
But what is courage and how can we identify it? Psychologist Dr Stanley J Rachman defines courage as a ‘behavioural approach in spite of the experience of fear’. This means courage is not a feeling but, in fact, it is a choice to act. It is a decision process we take ourselves through when faced with an uncomfortable situation. I have seen students faced with these choices of how to act numerous times of late.
Recently we had students push themselves beyond their comfort zones and sing solos in front of a large crowd. While many adults would shudder at the thought, these students stepped into the limelight, making the choice to accept a challenge. This week our Year 6 students summon the courage to push their limits. They leave the creature comforts of home and spend a week away from family, part of that time in a tent and facing various physical challenges. They ultimately have the choice not to participate or they can relish in the experience despite any apprehension they may have. We regularly encourage our students to stand up for what they believe in and be strong leaders, but again this takes courage that is often beyond their maturity. But why is it so important to have a sense of courage?
Psychologist Peter Muris found that the children with greater bravery (or who showed greater courage) had fewer anxiety symptoms than those with less. He added that avoiding frightening or challenging situations causes anxiety problems to continue – even escalate. This is why courage is one of Carey’s Positive Learner Attributes; we want to develop young people who ‘approach uncertainty and are prepared to explore new opportunities, ideas and strategies’. With this approach, a fulfilling and exciting life awaits them.
Acting Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale – Wellbeing and Student Learning
CreelaBelle Howard, ‘The Importance of Teaching Courage in the Classroom’, Studies Weekly, May 19, 2021.