Crashing into potential: The power of resilience - Education Matters Magazine
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Crashing into potential: The power of resilience

Scott Harris Crashing into potential

Professor John Hattie and Mr Scott B Harris explain how to implement the core principles of Harris’s CRASHING INTO POTENTIAL program in the classroom to help students build resilience and develop a growth mindset.

Resilience is a key skill and it became particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in isolation, remote learning and upended routines were thrust upon teachers and students.

Youth speaker, Mr Scott B Harris, explains that previously, resilience was a skill that one develops over many years, refined through life experiences. Now, children need to be taught these skills – not simply as a preventative measure, but to enable them to overcome challenges.

“Children today face a variety of new challenges, from social media pressure to economic instability and political polarisation in the media. With the world changing at an unprecedented pace, this skill is a must,” he says.


Young people face adversity every day, in the form of academic challenges, family difficulties, health issues, social struggles, and more.

“By learning how to overcome adversity, children can develop the skills and mindset they need to navigate challenges and emerge stronger on the other side. It’s important to note that overcoming adversity doesn’t just happen naturally; it is a path we must actively choose to walk down,” says Mr Harris.

Scott speaks from experience, having survived a motorbike accident in 2008 that left him with life-long disabilities. By setting clear goals and re-defining his purpose, he was able to overcome different challenges – including the anxiety and depression triggered by his accident.

“By focusing on my goals, I was able to stay motivated, which gave me a sense of control and direction – both of which were taken away from me when I had my accident,” he elaborates. By practising resilience and perseverance, he has developed the confidence, skills and strength to keep achieving his goals.


The term ‘growth mindset’ was coined by Carol Dweck, a psychologist and professor of psychology at Stanford University, in the USA. It is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, perseverance, and learning from failure.

“The development of this mindset has helped me persevere through many challenges I’ve faced in my recovery and has helped me achieve goals I might otherwise have given up on. I believe that this must be embedded into our education system and reinforced constantly from K to 12,” says Mr Harris.

Professor John Hattie, Melbourne University.


Prof John Hattie, Emeritus Laureate Professor at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, Chair of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leaders, and director of the Hattie Family Foundation, explains that some coping strategies (such as venting, denial, self-pity) are less effective than problem-focused strategies.

These include perseverance, growth mindset thinking and resilience and are the focus of the CRASHING INTO POTENTIAL program developed by Mr Harris and Prof Hattie.

“One evaluation of this program showed marked improvements in students’ perseverance to face challenges, coping with stressors, adaptive help seeking, motivation to keep trying, and hardiness to seek feedback and consider new solutions,” explains Prof Hattie.

He adds that supportive teachers can be powerful guides, navigating students through challenges and helping them build resilience.


Prof Hattie and Mr Harris have been working together to research the efficacy of Harris’s approach.

On 16 June 2023, they will be sharing their findings in a presentation they’ll be delivering at the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools Conference (which is part of the upcoming National Education Summit Melbourne).

For more information about the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools Conference, or to register for the National Education Summit in Melbourne, visit:


The National Education Summit has continued to be an important key professional development event for Australian educators since it first took place in 2016. The Summit incorporates six individual events, each specialising in key areas of interest within teaching and learning. In addition, the Summit offers guests seminars and a free trade expo – The Education Show – boasting over 100 exhibitors, showcasing the latest educational resources, technologies and products.

The Summit is supported by the involvement of key educational organisations involved including The GROK Academy, Australian Education Union, Awards Victoria, Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV), School Library Association Victoria (SLAV), Berry Street Educational Model, Queensland School Library Association (QSLA), Switch4Schools, Twinkl, Eduwebinar, Salutegenics and The Big Sister Experience.

The National Education Summit is taking place at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre from 16 – 17 June 2023.

When and where:

  • Melbourne: Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June 2023, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
  • Brisbane: Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August 2023, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre


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