How Welcoming Adversity Builds Character


“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” 

- Steven Covey

From the moment I laid my eyes on my children I wanted nothing but the best for them. I hoped for a road free of obstacles, potholes and detours. This is a common parental phenomenon and we encounter it many times as educators.

As we grow, we come to realize that our ambition to create a stress-free life for our kids is flawed in one fundamental way - it’s impossible!  Kind of like Don Quixote tilting at windmills - it’s a lofty goal but totally impractical.

So, if we can’t bundle up our kids in emotional bubble wrap or lock them away from the real world for a couple of decades, what does a parent do?

Preparing Children for the Real World

This is a quandary we face at our school almost every day and it’s something parents want to talk about often. How does Walden help prepare children for the rough and tumble real world?

It may surprise you to learn that we embrace adversity recognizing that into every life a little rain will fall. While we don’t go out of our way to create difficulty we do teach our students how to healthfully address obstacles and challenges.

Let me give you simple example. You might have noticed that this past spring we had a LOT of rain. At most schools, when confronted with precipitation, you’ll have indoor recess. WE got thinking about this and decided that we’ll do something different this year. Unless it’s chucking down, we will send the kids outside to play in the sprinkles! It’s a great way to make the simple point that a little bit of wet shouldn’t discourage us from venturing out into nature to grow our awareness of how the rain feels, how it sounds when it hits the ground, how it feels to squish through the damp grass, and how rain helps all things grow - including kids!

Appreciating the Present Moment

It’s all part of our devotion to helping kids appreciate the present moment and pursue wellness - an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. The World Health Organization defines it as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

One pillar of our approach is to be proactive in fostering student achievement by recognizing wellness as an essential component of education. Students participate daily in mindfulness activities, which is a mandate of our program. Evidence suggests that introducing mindful meditation into the classroom is an effective means of improving attention and emotional regulation. And there’s real science supporting why we embrace this approach.  Our commitment is to instil in our students a commitment to a self-directed and continuously evolving process to achieve their full potential.  

And, you’ll always be able to get dry after the rain falls.

Daphne PeruginiComment