Perseverance involves demonstrating tenacity even in the face of adversity. What makes some persevere while others crumble is certainly a matter for debate. Teachers can use the elusive concept of perseverance to spark the learning process. The classroom is an excellent place to explore perseverance and to discuss the qualities that define it.
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There are many pieces of literature that can be used to discuss perseverance. One classic novel that demonstrates it is "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Using this novel, teachers can discuss how someone who is completely isolated and shunned by society for committing adultery uses her hardship to grow and transcend adversity. Hester, the main character, ioutcast for her adultery and secluded and forced to wear the letter "A" on her chest. Hester uses her isolation as a "passport" to grow as a person. Despite her punishment, she raises her daughter successfully and becomes a helper to those in need, reversing the public opinion of her. At the end of the novel, no one remembers that the "A" stood for adultery; they think it stands for "able."
Historical figures, such as Holocaust survivors who were able to keep themselves alive in concentration camps, can be examined and used as an example to educate students against the dangers of prejudice. The Underground Railroad, and Harriet Tubman, who risked her life to free herself and others from the injustice of slavery, is another area of history that can be drawn upon to demonstrate perseverance. Have students research the different figures you have selected. List the common characteristics of these individuals as well as the adversity that faced them. Through examination, students will begin to realise it was the will of the individual that set them apart. Conduct a class discussion where students comment on the accomplishments of these amazing people.
Students can write a journal about an obstacle they overcame. Ask a series of questions including: What does perseverance mean? What allows a person to persevere? How does one continue on when it seems everything is against him? and What was the final result? After you have given students some time, ask for volunteers to read their entries to the class. Through discussion, the true qualities of perseverance will surface, and you will have provided true life examples for the class.
This activity involves cutting out a star for each student. Then, students come up with goals they wish to achieve. Once students have decided, they should write the goal on the star. Have each student come up to the front of the class and share what they have written. Students should also explain what steps they will need to take in order to achieve these goals; you can point out to them that perseverance is needed to accomplish difficult tasks. The purpose of this lesson is to get students to realise that goals are not achieved easily; it takes hard work, and above all, perseverance.
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