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Volume 22, Number 5
September/October 2006

“R” is for Resilience

Schools turn to “asset development” to build on students’ strengths


Imagine a teenager as a balloon. One minute it’s soaring; the next it’s floating toward the ground, heading for a crash. But suppose there’s an adult standing nearby who is willing to reach out and give it a gentle bop to send it soaring again? Better yet, what if there are five adults standing in a circle holding a thick web made of yarn? The tighter the web, the less likely the balloon can slip through and hit the ground.

This web-of-yarn exercise was invented by Derek Peterson, an educational consultant and one-man crusader who travels the globe preaching the benefits of youth development to teachers, administrators, school board members, and community leaders. The web—he likens it to a Lakota “dreamcatcher”—is meant to demonstrate the impact of adult intervention in supporting resilience among teens.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

B. Benard. Resiliency: What We Have Learned. San Francisco, CA: WestEd, 2004.

P. Benson. All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE), a Statewide Initiative of the Association of Alaska School Boards, 1111 West 9th St., Juneau, AK 99801; tel.: (907) 586-1083.

The Search Institute, 615 First Ave. N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; tel.: (800) 888-7828.

N. Starkman, P. Scales, and C. Roberts. Great Places to Learn: How Asset-Building Schools Help Students Succeed. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 1999.