It’s no secret that life comes with its fair share of trials. These difficulties look different for everyone, but they’re particularly painful to see in young people. From unfair treatment to poor teachers to peer pressure, there are endless possible hurdles students can face. And, when faced with these hurdles, there are many different ways they can be handled. And while there are many different factors to consider, the overall mentality is important. Does a student who faces struggle react as a victim, or as a survivor? What is the difference between a student victim and a student survivor — and how does it show up in the classroom?
It’s worth acknowledging that there are different levels of difficulties that students might face. The frustration of a poor teacher is a far different trial than surviving homelessness. Learning to navigate peer pressure requires different skills than learning to rebuild your life after a natural disaster claims your home. Every situation is unique, and so is every student, so each situation should be taken into consideration individually.
That said, when taken in the context of an academic setting, there is a clear difference between a student victim and a student survivor.
A student victim is someone who finds themselves so mired in their struggles that they have little mental and emotional space for anything else. They draw on their trials as a source of anger, frustration, disappointment, and fear. Often, these moments of conflict or dissatisfaction become a scapegoat for other difficulties in life.
For example, a student victim who is failing their class may blame their low grade on their teacher. They may protest that their instructor did a poor job of explaining the concept, making it impossible to pass. And while the student may be correct, and the teacher may not have delivered the material well, they are also failing to take personal responsibility for their understanding.
On the other hand, a student survivor learns from their struggles and seeks to overcome the hardships they experience. They succeed in spite of their difficulties, and their strength comes from the ability to progress even when the situation makes it difficult. When placed in the same situation with the inept teacher, the survivor will find a way to succeed. They may ply their teacher for a more thorough explanation, attend office hours, or research the concept on their own.
In an academic setting, it’s far better to take on the role of the survivor than the victim. In doing so, the student is able to move past their struggles and learn from them, rather than remaining mired in them. This turns a potentially difficult situation into a moment of growth and fortitude, and the student can even become a positive role model for their peers.
Approaching situations in the mindset of a student survivor provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for their personal growth. Every student will face some level of difficulty in their academic career. Every student will be faced with a teacher who is new or unprepared or manage the pitfalls of peer pressure. It is in these moments where students can choose to forge their own path, rather than allowing their circumstances to define them. As these students grow and mature, they’re able to apply these same lessons to more substantial challenges they face in life.
At The Tenney School, we’re passionate about helping students achieve success on their terms. That means acknowledging the struggles students face and helping them to navigate the complex situations life throws at them. It also means allowing them to choose their own path while encouraging them to take on a survivor mentality. To learn more, contact us.