Think about your own childhood for a moment. Did your parents ever teach you about what COULD come your way . . . what MIGHT come your way . . . what WILL come your way, inevitably, someday when life takes a nose-dive: heartache, suffering, pain, defeat, mistakes, or tragedy? I don't remember having many discussions about this with my parents; I had some chats with a few teachers along the way, but that mostly had to do with receiving a low test score or failing a paper: "You can turn your 'F' or 'D' grade into a better grade if you re-work it, revise it, or ditch your topic and try writing about something that you REALLY want to write about," they said.
But, that's about it. No one ever prepared me for failure in life. No one prepared me for defeat. I'm not blaming my parents or teachers. I just wish I put on an imaginary Kevlar vest filled with tools and skills for coping, skills on how to prevail or "bounce back," skills that would help me to become "elastic man" where I could shoot my rubber-band to the stars after falling into lava.
There are all sorts of pain, agony, and defeat. We experience illness, disease, the death of our loved ones (including our pets), career failure, not getting into the college of our choice, or mistakes that we cannot always forecast. We get pep-talks and motivational, "You'll get em' next time," but what can we do to TEACH TRAGEDY? Our unfortunate, world events of mass killings and literature that will help us to understand and cope with such tragedies are currently in practice. But, let's continue our conversation, together . . .
What can we do to better prepare our students for a life of emotional ups and downs beyond a pat on the back? How can we EXPLICITLY put together a curriculum, program, or experience that will create "elastic adolescents" and arm them with the tools of Kevlar, Teflon, or with the internal capes of coping?