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Connecting the Dots—Friday Thoughts

Connecting the Dots: Culture of Vulnerability, Possibility Thinking & Resilience

I am currently working on a couple of projects and research ideas. Some of the conceptual considerations came (more or less) together this morning. Mind you this post is the mind-mapping, ‘pre-storming the library’ draft.

The First Dot

A Culture of Vulnerability

The current edition of Times Higher Education runs an opinion piece ‘The feel-bad factor’ by Prof Ecclestone. This article highlights that the boundaries between actual vulnerability and ‘trivial’ vulnerability have become blurred. The author highlights, that education itself does not make vulnerable—yes! Thank you. True engagement with a learning process certainly has elements of risk taking (by both the learner and the teacher), because inevitably it impacts on identity negotiation and asks to leave comfort zones behind. However, should that be considered a vulnerability, if it takes place in a safe environment such as university?

I don’t want to go into the discussion about vulnerability, its definition and forms, in this post. However, the topic has bothered me for a while, maybe because I feel guilty when I put my foot down with my students and force them to take responsibility for their work—no I am not doing your work for you. And yes, I was asked: what then I am here for—because my students don’t know off Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development? Whatever the form, vulnerability is an issue that needs addressing.

The Second Dot


This morning I watched a small report on resilience research in Germany. A key aspect of the research mentioned in this report was significance of establishing trust between a teacher and the children—having a reliable person in the teaching role. More about this research and other research into poverty and resilience by M. Zander here.


My attention was drawn to the report when it described the pedagogy, and the significance of the teacher for the children was highlighted. There were strong links to my research, and this project seems to confirm the interpretation in my research that the refugee children due to life-trajectory and targeted support developed stronger resilience and advantages over children, who experienced socio-economic disadvantage without the targeted support.

The Third Dot

Possibility Thinking and Making Connections

Possibility thinking plays, in my opinion, a significant part in the vulnerability and resilience discussion. Possibility thinking is a literacy, that is crucial in making informed life-decisions, in taking ownership and control of one’s life. Possibility thinking can enable us to avoid simply reiterating life-decisions we experience within our narrow social environment, and help to cross boundaries.

I am currently involved in applying for funding with other stakeholders to extend the project I reported on earlier and establish it two-way. Bringing not only marginalised children from Germany to Scotland but also vice versa. We’ve been discussing a related research project and my first thought was to explore the impact the project has on possibility thinking and subsequently identity negotiations and/or life-trajectories. Reading the article about vulnerabilities, true ones and perceived ones (I am still playing with terminology. Is perceived vulnerability less true, than if it is defined by the ethics committee?), and watching the report on resilience, I began to wonder if researching the impact on developing resilience should be included.


Categories: Research

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Nathalie Sheridan

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