Sunday, 22 January 2012

Patience - A Necessary Virtue

We live in a fast paced world where speed and instant change and action have become the norm. Whether its the number of airport queues I've passed through recently, or the presently glacial pace of progress in the current teachers labor dispute, its worth remembering that patience is a necessary virtue.

Patience can be defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate trouble or delay without getting angry or upset. The modern world is not a patient place. We are used to fast food, fast computers, instant results and service on the fly. Time is money, and no one has time to just stand around and wait. Watch the line ups at a bank, or the body language in a waiting room and the annoyance with any degree of delay can be seen first hand. But how do people cope when circumstances dictate that we "hurry up and wait"? Stories about road rage and violent frustration over delays in service are increasingly common .

And yet when students get impatient in the classroom teachers talk of a need for "self regulation".  In the classroom patience is not just a virtue, its a necessity for both students and educators. Real and effective learning takes time. Learning something new often involves a degree of adversity. The light bulb moment, when students get something that was previously unknown or unfathomable, is cited by many teachers as the best thing about teaching, but what about the struggles that led to that magic moment? Calmly dealing with the frustrations that bring us to a successful break through is equally if not more important.

Anyone can be quick to boil over with frustration when faced with adversity. "Someone should do something" we think. The blame game is an easy, but futile option. If only (insert scapegoat here) would act/be reasonable/give me what I want, all would be good. A better test might be to think about what can be done about the situation. And, if the answer is nothing, or not much - if the matter truly is beyond our control - how can we be constructively patient as we wait for circumstances to change or sort themselves out?

In his article " Dealing With Adversity" Chuck Gallozzi outlines several techniques for improving one's patience. Amongst them is the PPPP program. Briefly summarized, the P's recommend a person deal with frustration by not Panicking,  by making a Plan, to Progress by implementing the plan, and ultimately, to Prosper in maintaining one's calm in frustrating times. Perhaps easier said than done. Gallozzi outlines several other strategies in his article. Maybe the trick is to have the patience to find one that works best for you.

The Serenity Prayer asks that God grant people the serenity  to accept the things they cannot change; the courage to change the things they can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Perhaps it should also include having patience necessary to properly identify which is which. 

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