Thoughts and Musings on... Resourcefulness
Posted on 15th January 2024 at 20:17
I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with Professor Guy Claxton's Building Learning Power and his approach to developing a more holistic view of learning to learn? The 4 R's that he promoted - Resilience, Reciprocity, Reflectiveness and Resourcefulness - have stayed with me ever since I came across them way back in 2005. I always liked the 4 R's and resourcefulness has been a part of my life and career.
I've often thought that if you don't have something, then it's just a matter of 'thinking around the obstacle' and re-approach the challenge! Sounds easy but as we all know the human spirit can only stand so much before we can feel deflated. This happened to me when, just before the opening of the new school that I was leading, a member of staff alerted me to the fact that we had NO tables and chairs for the first cohort of children joining the brand new school. This happened on a Friday and we were opening on a Monday! What did we do? We begged, borrowed and (legally) stole and we were fine!
I once led a residential trip and we had meticulously packed everything that we thought that we would need as we were travelling with SEND pupils, some of whom had complex feeding regimes. When we arrived we unpacked and then realised that we had left behind one of the most important pieces of equipment! What were we going to do? We had to think quickly and improvise - and we managed to solve the problem and the impact on the relevant pupils was negligible. It took us longer to carry out the relevant task, but that was on us and normal service ensued.
I think that I once said to a colleague "there aren't problems, just solutions we don't know about yet" - which, when I said was extremely naive of me - but I've never shaken this belief off! I have always believed that this is the case, even when it all looks extremely bleak. We may well be living in times of relative bleakness currently - but I do believe that it's an opportunity for growth. We are seeing collaborations and the use of technology to see an explosion of quality professional development that would not ordinarily be available to us in such plentiful amounts! We are seeing festivals and conferences that would necessitate travel and expense taking place in the comfort of our own homes. And while there is no denying that face to face is more desirable, we are beginning to reconcile that there is another way to communicate!!
In these difficult days I am learning that resourcefulness is a strategy that has to be grasped and utilised firmly. We cannot be hesitant if we want to move forward. The adage 'if you do what you always do, you'll get what you always got" comes to my mind - and I tell myself this when I am in transition from one job to the next, or one project to the next. As a leader, I can remember that when one of my team wanted to bring in a new approach or idea, I was always enthusiastic - because new ideas bring growth and innovation. They can equally bring failure - but the process is where the learning happens!
So - what am I saying about developing a resourceful mindset? I have a few pointers that are helping me to strengthen my resourcefulness:
- Being open minded - use everything and anything - what I have learned is that if it pricks your interest, then there's something there. If it comes to nothing - fine. However, it might be the chance meeting/thought/email/tweet/phone call that takes you somewhere else!
- Self -assured - you CAN do whatever you THINK you can do! Start it! Finish it!
- Imaginative - give it a go as anything goes! Creativity is how we find out where are limitations are - and someone is going to believe in what you are thinking if you believe in it too
- Proactive - life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
- Persistent - keep going.... you may be thinking that you can't keep this going, but you can, as you maybe just about to 'breakthrough' - how sick would you be if you stop just as it became what you thought was too hard...
- Hopeful - and we need lots of hope in these difficult days. I know that better days are coming and this keeps me going but it's not easy.
"The amount of satisfaction you get from life depends largely depends largely on your own ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness. People who wait around for life to supply their satisfaction usually find boredom instead."
William C. Menninger
I like this quote by William C. Menninger who founded the Menninger Foundation, a centre of treatment of behavioural disorders in Kansas in the early 20th century. I am mindful that we need to ensure that we - and, thinking ahead for our children - need to think about how we develop this approach in our education offer if we want well-rounded and resilient citizens. We should be re-thinking our offer to our children and young people.
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