Posted: May 5, 2021 in: Pain-2-Power

Pain-2-Power: Exactly What Schools Can Teach this Fall

With schools emerging from the Covid pandemic and reopening for in-person classes this fall, the heart of Pain-2-Power reasoning will be needed for students, teachers and administrators.  That’s because it won’t do simply to begin, again, as though nothing has happened.  And it won’t do to only pay attention (which is, of course, also essential) to the emotional and academic hardships all will have endured.  What will also be required is a psychological framework in which to make sense of those hardships and turn them from a weakness into a strength.

Part of that framework should be Pain-2-Power thinking.  Because there are certain facts about the reopening of schools that shouldn’t be lost in the long journey back to in-person classes.  One of them is that students and teachers should be thinking of the journey as ending in victory:  Their families and communities and schools will be staging a comeback.  And that comeback can be a lesson to students that life is all about comebacks—that setbacks are inevitable, but that overcoming them is already written into the DNA of the human psyche.  A virus can infect cells.  It can take lives.  But it can’t destroy the human spirit to overcome.

As my friend and colleague, the transformational educator and author S. Dallas Dance has written in his book Imploded You-niverse, “The benefit in looking back at things after the fact is that it allows you to store these things in your memory to use in the future.”

Students should be helped to internalize the Pain-2-Power lesson of the Covid pandemic and of schools reopening and make it their secret weapon against adversity.  They should be helped to reflect on other times in their lives when they worried things would never be healed or repaired or renewed—and learned, otherwise.  And they should be given the gift of being told directly that there will be other times in their lives when the lesson of school starting, anew, can remind them that they need never feel permanently shut out or shut down or without hope.  Not ever.

Students should be given the evidence of how human beings, even amidst the great turmoil caused by Covid, even amidst great turmoil caused by political division and racial unrest, found the focus and ingenuity and investment needed through public/private partnerships (another worthwhile lesson) to develop vaccines in record time and deploy them in record time.  We were not paralyzed by fear; we were propelled by it.  That’s a powerful lesson for every single young person, and it is one that almost every one of them will need to remember at some point in his or her life.

As with every difficulty, reversal or loss in life, the stage has been set by this pandemic—tragic as it has been—to teach that an alchemy inherent to the human psyche and soul can always be tapped to turn pain into power.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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