• Growth layers - we move into the new layer of growth with the resolution of each conflict, confusion or collusion

Valuing confusion, conflict and collision in teenagers 

When introducing Harbour College, a question that is most frequently asked is also the one that is asked of every educational organisation: “How is this school different?” While there are many answers to this, I feel that the key difference is how we value and handle the 'three Cs' that all children must face as they grow; confusion, conflict and collision.
It may seem counterintuitive to feel that we value confusion, conflict and collision that can occur with our students, as it seems like something that we should not want our kids to experience. Some parents certainly go to excessive lengths to protect their children from these necessary experiences of learning. They could not be more wrong. Growth, in every facet of human development, doesn’t just happen in a consistent linear manner; it occurs in layers, and every layer is marked by an event of confusion, conflict or collision. 

Maths – arguably students’ least favourite subject – is a great example, as each topic has defined learning outcomes. If students are not experiencing any confusion or moments of uncertainty, this means that they already know the topic, i.e. there is no learning involved. If the students are truly learning, there MUST be a period of confusion that leads to further attempts to understand the topic, before gaining insights and proficiency. And unlike many other subjects, mathematics is much more black-and-white when it comes to the experiential learning pathway of confusion → resilience → practice → proficiency. 

However, all learnings actually take the same pathway. The greatest learning of all for teenagers is social proficiency, where thoughts and behaviours are formed through the resolution or non-resolution of lived experiences of various personal conflicts. And our children need close guidance from adults – i.e. teachers – to resolve conflicts so they can move to the next layer of learning. Non-resolutions can, unfortunately, lead to the adaptation of unhelpful behaviours, or a persistent state of confusion/conflict. Helping our teens to resolve conflicts is not an easy task at all. In fact, due to the ambiguous, complex, and subjective nature of social conflicts, combined with limited resources, many schools either don’t have time for it or revert to a punitive approach where some students are named as naughty or unruly. 

But these are the times when teachers (and in fact parents) can make the most profound difference in our teens. When they are struggling due to confusion, conflicts or collision, that is the opportunity for the teachers to step up, make genuine connections, and do their job so the students can truly learn the perspective of valuing adversities in life. Although they may often look like they don’t want adults' help, we have never seen a student who did not value genuine non-judgmental interventions from the teachers at times of challenge. And that’s the difference at Harbour College.

Harbour College - growing knowledge and wisdom
1/24 - 26 Clyde Road, Browns Bay
0220 877 949