Education Is Adversity

One quote that I came across many years ago, as I started down this road into the profession of education, that has always stayed with me, is courtesy of  a British politician and writer named Benjamin Disraeli, who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. “There is no education like adversity.”  I’ve thought about these words many times and it has influenced my philosophy of education in some ways.

Facing adversity is a raw human experience that teaches us who we really are.  This is the basic idea that allows me to equate education and adversity.  Writer and novelist James Lane Allen writes; “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”  Adversity can be something that a student allows to break them, or it can be used as a source of inspiration in reaching their maximum potential; an obstacle to overcome to reach that next level, and ALL students CAN overcome!  Adversity in a student’s home or personal life can be turned into motivation to succeed in school and rise above.  Working in North-Central Alberta with students who face adversity in their daily lives and obstacles to education, it becomes important to teach courage and resiliency.


Also, in the classroom, students need to be challenged.  Teachers are not assessing students on information they already know.  They are to assess students on what they DO NOT know yet too, whether formatively or summatively, and how they attain and handle this knowledge.  There should always be a realm of information or related course material beyond each student’s current knowledge base for them to strive to, in order to ensure true learning occurs.  I guess you could also look at lesson plans as means of creating adversity in the classroom that challenges students to step outside their comfort zone and learn.  In this notion, we can also claim that ‘education is adversity.’

Disraeli and myself are certainly not the only folks to see the link between facing adversity and education.  Many teachers will most likely see merit in this philosophy.  Another person whose life work I’ve always admired is actress and philanthropist Audrey Hepburn, who once wrote; “A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and give them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.”  Here she draws some parallels between the power of education and one’s ability to conquer adversity.  

The goal of this blog is not just to serve as my online portfolio, but to become a resource base and conversation starter on current trends in effective teaching and learning.  Feel free to leave comments or contact me with your thoughts and ideas anytime and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.


“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”  – C.S. Lewis

-Christopher Gardner, February 12, 2017


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