Parents Voice in Government School Education

Resilient culture

The basis of a resilient culture

A resilient culture is an inclusive culture, one that appreciates the fact that people do struggle with challenges and this struggle can limit motivation, engagement and application. The resilient culture recognizes that “self-regard” is directly influenced by “social-regard”, that other people matter. Social-regard is the critical factor in how we regard ourselves and this social-regard is clearly posited in the “lived” culture, be it at home, at work, at school or at play. How others regard us determines directly our capacity to be resilient.

Allowing risk and vulnerability

A resilient culture establishes an enabling and supportive social regard context that allows people to be vulnerable and take a risk. Such a culture encourages people to face challenges without the fear of being diminished or critically judged by others in a status sense for making an error or for not managing the challenge as well as expected. A resilient culture encourages one to be vulnerable, to ‘have a go’, to try something, to reach beyond what is safe, to explore and to experience the unknown. A resilient culture encourages all to understand that exploration into the ‘known unknowns’ is OK, as is the more interesting and more vulnerable world of the ‘unknown unknowns’. The resilient culture establishes hope and courage. A resilient culture is the way forward.

Social status and self-regard

The status found in relationships is reflected in culture. How we are regarded establishes our status. Social status is really how we regard one another. Our “social status” does define us to ourselves and to others and directs our behavior. Whenever we interact with others, or do something with or to another, we ultimately impact and this contributes to our status within the relationships we have with the other. Life is fully relational and relationships involve a status component. Our regard for ourselves is positioned by how we feel others regard us within each living context, each moment and then how they eventually regard us generally. This is about “worth”. Are we valued, considered or worth, worthy? Are our contributions of value and valued? With being valued we gain confidence and courage and we develop a sense of hope. This encourages us to try. The culture that “gives value” and gives, subsequently, courage and hope to try, is a resilient culture. A culture that “takes value”, is critically judgmental and steals status, takes away the courage and hope to try. In this non-resilient culture vulnerability is avoided, for trying something new or something that one may find difficult and not manage well, will critically impact negatively on our social status, our social-regard and subsequently our self-regard. Cultures do direct and are either resilient or not in how they react to “the trier”.

Vulnerability and resilience

The status and power structures of cultures define whether or not a culture is resilient. If power and status are defined by how mistake is managed, and mostly they are, then the management of mistake is critical to cultural resilience. Where vulnerability is high as a result of critical judgement by both those of higher status, and those of equal status (a peer), then resilience will be low. Only the brave ‘take on the system’ and do so at their peril. These non-resilient cultures are status protecting cultures where power is protected and even manipulated for personal gain. These cultures are highly competitive and one is pitted against another. Safety (of status) is at risk. “Social threat” becomes a behavior directing agent either imposed extrinsically by an authority (or peer) or imposed intrinsically by oneself to safeguard existing status and social worth. These non-resilient, competitive cultures, establish “status policing” strategies and techniques found in rewards, awards and punishments, even “appraisal systems”, that allow the powerful to remain in control. Surveillance is inherent in these cultures.

Power in resilient cultures

In resilient cultures power over others is not pursued or protected for all are encouraged to try things. Failure here is valued, for it directs discovery, promotes change and allows all to ‘have a crack’ at something without the fear of losing status with either “the authority in power” or with peers. In these resilient cultures vulnerability is low and social threat does not determine or curtail action. These are co-operative and collaborative cultures, “learning cultures”, that value exploration, experimentation, new ideas and are excited about reaching into the known unknowns and even the unknown unknowns. Motivation here is primed extrinsically and this stimulates and directs intrinsic motivation. Authority encourages ‘having a crack’. Relationships are more open, transparent and supportive and are based upon giving. Trust is given. Forgiveness is actioned, integrity found in respecting status and worth is pronounced and hope of course presents. Others are looked after kindly.  Whereas, the systems in place in non-resilient cultures, take rather than give status and worth, do not action forgiveness, do not exhibit integrity in reference to status and worth, are not transparent and operate entirely on the promotion of self. As stated, in these non-resilient cultures existing power structures are preserved at any cost.

The common good

The reference to culture here refers to micro as well as macro cultures. A micro culture could be two people in a relationship, perhaps a family or a team, a class or club, a council or “management board”, whereas a macro culture could be a school, an institution, an entire business, an organisation like “the military”, the Government, even associations and even nations. How cultures are structured in a resilience sense determines how we relate, how we live, how we grow and what is achieved and whether or not we have a sense of “common good”. Resilient cultures live moment-to-moment upon adding meaning to the lives of all. Resilient cultures are kind and promote the five elements critical to humane and constructive relationships that enable all to live meaningful and productive lives. These five defining elements are trust, forgiveness, integrity, hope and compassion. The resilient cultures present these foundations. The resilient culture is the way forward.

John Hendry OAM

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