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Resilience Education: New approach for teens

Resilience Education: A new approach for troubled teens

Forget Labour’s “stay in school until 18” message and National’s equally redundant “boot camp for troubled teen” line – a whole new vision for education is needed to encompass the different world we could soon be living in says environmentalist/conservationist Linda Shaw.

According to Linda, troubled teenagers not fitting into traditional schooling are a resource who could help spearhead `resilience education’ - new life skills that may soon be required in a world where climate change has impacted everything.

Disrupted weather patterns, fuel and water shortages, difficulties in food production and spiralling food costs mean healthy strong young people could become critically important in human survival.

“How will we live in the future if we regularly have temperatures of 35°or 40° Celsius?” asks Linda who calls her business Mecology (

“What if rain patterns continue to change and severely hamper food production? Do people know how to propagate seeds if needed? Are people set up for managing their own water needs? Do people know how to preserve food or fix machinery needed for food production?

“So many traditional skills have been lost in our modern society. We need to be teaching young people especially about resilience education – physical, emotional and mental resilience to handle what may lie ahead in the not too distant future.

“Teenagers who aren’t interested or engaged by traditional schooling could be ideally suited to preparation for what lies ahead. They could be channelled into apprenticeships, into learning old skills that will be needed again; they could have a hugely valuable and important role in the times to come.”

Linda has spent years researching her subject: she believes by 2015 the world could be a vastly different place. “Look at what happened to Cuba when the oil supply was withdrawn in 1991 - people were starving. Cubans had to revolutionise their agricultural systems, transport, lifestyle in a very short time.

“We are at an environmental tipping point – it’s only a matter of time before a global catastrophe is sparked. The kind of things that happened to Cuba could happen worldwide.” Last year Linda left a corporate career to devote herself to educating people on environmental and lifestyle aspects of a changing world.

She believes education across the spectrum needs to be rethought. “Let’s `deschool’ education so that it is seen in much wider parameters: a new skill base to build resilience into communities. We need to learn to mitigate the impact of climate change and how to adapt for the times ahead.”

She says resilience education ideas could include:

- Schools, libraries & museums opened after hours to teach practical subjects like permaculture, composting, carpentry, cooking, seed propagation, food preservation

- Enquiry learning where young people are more self directed to study the areas that interest them. “It’s thought that the majority of jobs in the future haven’t even been thought of yet,” says Linda

- Lifelong learning where people of all ages attend seminars to learn new skills that will be needed in a changed environment – including how to work together as communities for when times become tough

- Encourage mature people to teach skills to young people and adults

- Holding teaching seminars in places like city parks where community gardens have been developed that also work as food banks

“It’s time we see troubled teenagers in a new light,” says Linda. “Not as people who need to be curtailed in a boot camp or in a school system they obviously already have little use for.

“If these young people are inspired, engaged and challenged in the right way they have the immense energy, intelligence and initiative that could be hugely important for all our futures – and it would allow them to be seen in a new light, by both society and themselves.”

Linda Shaw has spent years working in corporate management - for ZESPRI kiwifruit marketing, local government, the Auckland Zoo and running her own training company. She has now travels New Zealand presenting at conferences, workshops and seminars to inspire people about the positive input they can have into creating a better tomorrow.

"There is no endeavour more noble than the attempt to achieve a collective dream. When a city accepts as its mandate its quality of life; when it respects the people who live in it; when it respects the environment; when it prepares for future generations, the people share responsibility for that mandate, and this shared cause is the only way to achieve that collective dream." – Jaime Lerner, visionary former mayor of Brazilian futuristic city Curitiba


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