When I began teaching in 1974, at a secondary comprehensive school in Romford, my priority (apart from survival in a tough environment) was to help VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE.
I was born in the deprived blitzed East End of London in the early fifties, and grew up in what is now termed a “Disadvantaged Background” I had a great deal of empathy with young people who also found growing up difficult.
Secondary school had been a bit of a battleground for me, struggling to cope with most teachers, study and the discipline. However, I was very good at sport and exams so I not only survived, but with the support of some key teachers (P.E. and Head of Science) I actually managed to go to university. Unfortunately, I was unable to become a professional footballer or sportsman so I went to Carnegie College and became a P.E. teacher.
My degree is in Chemistry, and I think scientifically, so as soon as I began teaching I also began experimenting and researching. I was particularly keen to discover “What we most need to learn to achieve good health, wellbeing and success” both to improve my own effectiveness and how best to help these vulnerable young people. The following blog provides an outline of some of the key stages in my research and development. https://succesfeelosophy.wordpress.com/disadvantage-gap-how-to-close-it/
In recent years I’ve heard the phrase, ‘Vulnerable Young People’ a great deal and I feel it probably succinctly describes the group of people that I’ve have studied and tried to help most for over 40 years. The evidence from this research means I am confident of what causes children to remain vulnerable (they are at birth of course) and how this can be prevented.
This blog provides an outline of this evidence https://succesfeelosophy.wordpress.com/vulnerable-young-people-the-8-skills/ and has this conclusion:
“The evidence illustrating that these 8 skills are key to young people being vulnerable in the modern world has increased immensely since the start of this century. I wrote my first book (A Wonderful Life?-2008) to try to provide an understanding of how these 8 skills explain the vulnerability of many young people and how they can be helped.
Clearly the solution is for societies to prioritise the development and measurement of the skills/abilities etc. that our children really need to succeed and prevent them from being so vulnerable as young people and adults.”
In 1979, after 5 years of teaching mainly P.E. and science I became a Head of Department in Science but also began teaching some Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) hoping this new subject would help reduce the vulnerability of the many young people I was continually encountering.
In 1985, I decided to begin a Diploma in Education in this new subject, PSHE, in order to explore how vulnerable young people could be helped. While doing this two year part-time course I discovered, applied and got a post of Head of Year at a successful secondary school with pastoral care and PSHE central to its philosophy and approach.
In 1990 when I studied for my Masters in Education in Research and Evaluation I focused on Teacher Effectiveness helping me to clarify how development in certain skill areas are key to the vulnerability, health and wellbeing of everyone. Throughout the nineties my focus, research, teaching and support, on vulnerable people intensified.
In 2003, after almost 30 years of teaching and focusing on improving health, wellbeing and life chances of young people (and staff) I decided to become a Government Consultant in the North East (a deprived area) to provide extensive support to schools. parents, staff, and organisations with VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE.
I received a huge amount of very positive feedback, with the comment “Why didn’t I know about this before?” being extremely frequent. I was aware that my 30 years of teaching had developed my skills to help people learn effectively in workshops, lessons and presentations and I explored a wide variety of approaches to provide further support.
In 2008 I finally managed to complete my first book –“A Wonderful Life?. My literacy and literary skills are not a strength (poor) since my background and experience had not encouraged or helped to develop them so I struggled to write a book that young and older people would actually enjoy reading, whilst helping them to understand why VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE occur and how this can be prevented of helped.
I used the “Christmas Carol” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” format in that the main subject (Scrooge and George Bailey) are persuaded to change their approach to life via “spiritual beings” educating them and outlining key parts of their lives.
Probably because of my poor literary skills I was unable to obtain either a literary agent or publisher, so I personally financed the printing of 1000 books, so I’m delighted to report that all of these books were sold by the time I retired in March 2010.
As a result of the very positive feedback from the readers of the book, when I retired in 2010 I decided to write a second book (Miraculous! in 2012) and questions to use on each chapter to help people learn from it. The questions and information from the book have been prepared for reflection and discussion, which proved so effective when I was teaching.
Since I had so many years and lessons discussing the concerns with and about VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE, I prepared topics and questions that relate to some of the most common concerns experienced by people in the 21st century.
“A Wonderful Life?”
‘The skills needed to succeed in the 21st century are unlikely
to be learnt by chance, so learning them has probably
become the most difficult and important job of our lives!’
Chapter 1 – The Beginning or The End?
- Page 5 – “Stacey can think of only one solution – ‘alcohol’ and digs out the bottle of vodka she has hidden away and starts to drink it straight from the bottle. It’s been a long time since Stacey last ate anything so the neat vodka has a very rapid effect.” –
Discuss why do you think Stacey would consider ‘alcohol’ would be a solution, and why is it so potentially dangerous to drink ‘neat vodka (40% alcohol) on an empty stomach’?
- Page 9 – “I don’t know what you mean by skills” – skills can be considered to be any action or activity that can be learnt.
Try to name five skills that you have learnt and what have you done to learn these skills and for how long?
- Page 13 – “In the space of six weeks, you went from having just one teacher in primary school to at least 8 different teachers in secondary school. Almost everyone finds it difficult to concentrate and understand all of them.”
Discuss what you can recall you first few weeks in secondary school, did you struggle and what did you do about it?
- Page 15 – “Your friends also lacked these essential skills, so you supported each other in your negative attitudes.”
Discuss how Stacey coped with this difficulty, can you recall any children that seemed to do the same and became very negative towards school etc.
- Page 17 – “The feeling of confidence due to the loss of inhibition that the alcohol provided, caused you to be even more of a ‘show off’ than usual, so that the others thought you were amusing, though they were probably actually laughing at you.”
Discuss what do you understand to be the effects of alcohol?
- Page 19 – “much of the time and money is spent on your appearance and ‘fashion’, repeatedly colouring and styling hair, studying and buying or stealing clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, perfume, make up and accessories with ‘the right label’.
Discuss why do you think Stacey has changed so much in her first year and now become so interested in these things?
Chapter 2 -Slipping Out Of Control
- Page 21 – “Your disappointing exam results meant you were placed in the lower sets”.
Stacey was not good at exams, discuss what do you think is needed to be good at exams.
- Page 24 – “A variety of scenes on the wall illustrated these points, and in each scenario Stacey appeared to be getting older, taller, larger and attempting to look more ‘sexy’.”
Discuss what do you think is actually meant by this term ‘sexy’ and at what age do you think this should occur?
- Page 25 – “The ‘pressure’ for you to ’lose your virginity’ continued to increase, until finally it occurred on a summer evening, in the park, when you were very drunk. Unsurprisingly, it is an experience you struggle to recall very well, and found little pleasure in it.”
Discuss why do you think Stacey felt this and why is it such a disappointment the first time?
Chapter 3 – Into The Pit Of Despair
- Page 27 – “You did manage to get a job, working in a local clothes shop, unfortunately with such poorly developed communication and social skills, you struggled to get on with your manager, workmates and customers, and after only a few weeks you left.”
Discuss what do you think are the most difficult parts in serving in a shop?
- Page 28 – “As you became seventeen, you not only encountered huge problems at college and at home, but your year had several disastrous events, in which a number of deaths to your friends and acquaintances occurred.”
Discuss why do you think so many deaths occur with people aged between 17 and 25?
- Page 31 – “Living with people often really tests our essential skills, since they are often stressful environments with little obvious escape.”
Discuss why do you think it is so difficult to live in a house with other people?
Chapter 4 – The Skills We Need To Succeed
- Page 33 – “In my day, people could ‘get by’ in their lives without being able to learn very effectively, because life was so much simpler”.
What do you think may be more difficult to understand in every day life today compared with 30 years ago?
- Page 35 – “Humans actually communicate vast quantities of information by the tone of their voice, their facial expressions, like showing fear or confusion, and especially by the shape of their body and positions of their hands, arms and legs, particularly how they touch each other”.
Try to illustrate this point with examples of games, drama, activities or demonstrations.
- Page 36 – “This is eventually what happened to Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ and George Bailey in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, they finally reflected on their lives and became much more self-aware, causing them to change their view of their lives”
Discuss these films and others, like body swap stories, and explain what you think caused them to change their awareness (point of view)
Chapter 5 – It’s Not A Problem It’s A Challenge,
Collaborative Action Inquiry into
1) Page 38 “Understanding Success”
“Success” is an important word that is frequently used, but often rarely fully understood.
The following questions attempt to help to develop an inquiry into this word in order to arrive at an agreed understanding of success
- What do you consider to be your greatest success so far – WHY?
- Some Olympic competitors do NOT feel successful, despite winning Silver or Bronze medals – WHY?
- Many big lottery winners do NOT feel successful – WHY?
- Would you feel you have succeeded if you ran the marathon (26+ miles) in a)2 hours, b)4½hours, c)24 hours WHY?
- What do you think determines how successful you feel?
2) Page 41 – “Understanding Friendship”
“Skilful Stacey is so lucky, I wish I’d had friends like that” remarked Stacey.
Arthur immediately responded.
“Luck was not the reason, you could’ve had them as friends but you rejected them in favour of ones who were superficial and lazy. Your poor communication and social skills meant you only had relationships with people who were similar to you, more concerned with superficial things, appearances, boys and ‘having a laugh’, as you called it. It takes empathy, time and effort to develop good quality relationships like these, and you were unable to do this”.
Try to suggest examples of things that would illustrate how good a friend someone was.
- Page 42 – “We are not born able to do these things we learn how to do them, and improve with practice. You would’ve achieved all of this if you had been prepared to try and practise, but your poor development in the skills of effective learning and motivation, meant you didn’t try or practise.”
Suggest examples of skills that you have learnt through lots of practice and why did you do it?
5) Page 43 – “Because Skilful Stacey has well developed Motivation and Social skills, she finds pleasure in a huge range of activities and is therefore rarely bored.”
Why do you think some people always seem to be bored whilst others seem to find almost everything interesting?
Chapter 6 – Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain
- Page 44 – “This Stacey is nothing like me”
“You’re right; she does become less and less like you, as we go on. You’re beginning to see that these essential skills, determine so much of our lives and this is a clear reflection of this,”
|Stacey’s weekly expenses if she didn’t live at home
Council Tax £10
Water Rates £10
NOT including mobile phone, clothes, social activities or travel expenses
This is an example of “WE ARE WHAT WE LEARN” – give examples of how much you have changed because of what you’ve learnt.
Do a similar calculation for you in your home and discuss what you’ve learnt from it.
3) Page 48 – SUPERlearning For Exam Success
“Stacey’s well developed self-motivation meant that she was determined to learn from her poor exam performance in her first year and discovered a new approach. She learnt to view tests and exams like matches in sport, and prepares for them by focusing on the key parts needed to succeed (she calls it SUPERlearning). Her exam performance improved enormously, and she shared the techniques with her friends (and anyone who asks her).”
Compare this SUPERlearning approach to exam with how you do it, why do you think this is so superior to yours?
|SUPERlearning For Exam Success
Chapter 7 -‘Success in life is a marathon not a sprint’
- Page 50 – “The front part of the human brain manages emotions and preventing the emotions taking over. Alcohol tends to reduce this controlling effect of this front part of the brain, so gradually humans behave in a way that their emotions determine. If they are angry or frustrated, the alcohol means they tend to become aggressive, if they are feeling low or depressed the alcohol can cause them to feel very sorrow for themselves or suicidal”
Try to use this outline of the effect of the drug alcohol on the brain to explain the various drunken behaviours you’ve observed.
- Page 51 – “Yes, I’m afraid your low self-esteem meant you invariably went out, caked in make-up and wearing extremely low cut tops to show off what you thought was your only positive asset. “
Try to suggest and explain various things that people do or buy to try overcome their concerns about their appearance (low self-esteem).
- Page 52 – You would not have taken illegal drugs if you had good cognitive skills and learnt to manage your feelings because you would’ve understood the high risk of taking illegal drugs. These high risk activities are often perceived as a ‘rite of passage’ or ‘code of behaviour’ to belong to a group and taking illegal drugs is an excellent example of this, as the effects are very uncertain as there is no guarantee of it’s purity or the concentration. Unlike you, this Stacey has no reason to consider doing such a stupid activity.”
This uncertain purity or concentration of illegal drugs means the first time people take them it kills them, why do you think so many people are prepared to take this risk?
4) Page 53 – “Successful people use their difficulties to improve by learning from the experience and setbacks; sometimes they are described as having a growth mindset, so she’s become very talented in various areas”
|Success in life is a marathon not a sprint.
It requires short term pain to achieve long term gain
Give examples where you have experienced setbacks but learnt from it and become much better as a result.
5) Page 54 – “That’s Charlie, she so wanted a baby but when he was born she just couldn’t cope. I envied her at the start, ‘cos she seemed so happy and everyone flocked around her but her baby needed so much attention, Charlie couldn’t do anything and got so depressed, I quickly changed my mind and thought I was glad it wasn’t me”.
Teenage mothers have become extremely common, why do you think this has occurred?
6) Page 55 – “Sadly too few people at present really understand what is needed to develop good relationships despite it being one of their greatest desires”
|Stacey’s Understanding of Love, Like and Lust
I feel I can be completely open and honest with them (I trust them completely).
I would do almost anything for them. Their welfare is one of my main concerns.
I feel much better when I am with them.
I admire their qualities and skills.
I get on well with them.
I desire them a great deal. I’d like to have sex with them.
Stacey read the poster and a huge lump appeared in her throat, she struggled to hold back the tears but managed to comment.
Consider these differences between Love, Like and Lust and discuss why so many people get confused between them.
Chapter 8 – It’s never too late to learn to succeed
1) Page 58 – “You are never too old to learn, but learning gets more difficult with increasing age and if you are willing, you could still develop the skills you need to succeed.”
|THE FIVE LEARNING REQUIREMENTS
Whatever you are trying to learn you need the following:
Use the Five Learning Requirements to try to explain why you have found it difficult to learn something recently and share it with others.
2) Page 59 – “From now on you must do all that you can to learn the skills you need to succeed and help others do the same”
“You want me to help others learn these skills as well! How can I do that if I don’t have them myself” Stacey said struggling to believe it.
“Because in order for you to learn them, you will need to understand how and this will help you to help others to do the same”.
Trying to teach others is a very effective way of learning, and the questions on this book use this approach, give examples where you have learnt something well because you were trying to help someone else learn.
Chapter 9 – ‘Let The Learning Begin’
1) Page 65 – “Or Christmas Carol.” Stacey added. “I’m going to start reading that today, I’ve always liked that film”
“Is that the one with Scrooge in it?” Suzi asked.
“Yeah that’s it” Stacey replied.
What did Scrooge have to learn in “A Christmas Carol” and why was it so important that he learnt it?
2) Page 68 – “The 8 Skills We Need To Succeed”
Consider the first three skills carefully and decide what you have done in your life until now to develop these 3 skills (your learning opportunities)
The 8 Skills We Need To Succeed
Effective Learning Skills
We need to learn to survive but unless we develop our ability to learn throughout our life the continually changing situations and difficulties in the 21st century will destroy/defeat us.
We are not born with a good concentration or able to understand and convey information, unless we learn to communicate effectively, we cannot form good relationships by sharing our emotions. It is also needed to learn effectively, requiring good development of our
• Attention span and intensity of focus (‘in the zone’)
• Verbal skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)
• Non-verbal skills (visual gestures, body language, touch)
Cognitive (thinking) skills
We are born struggling to make sense of our world and relying on others to make decisions for us, unless we learn how to work out how to solve problems we cannot succeed. We must develop good
• Analytical thinking – to understand ‘cause and effect’ and detect the key information (factors) for our decision.
• Conceptual thinking – to put this information into context so we are able to understand and relate information to our situation.
3) Page 68 – “The 8 Skills We Need To Succeed”
Now consider the last five skills, called social and emotional skills, carefully and decide what you have done in your life until now to develop these skills (your learning opportunities)
The 8 Skills We Need To Succeed
We are born totally unaware of who or what we are, unless we learn our strength and weaknesses we cannot know what we need to learn to succeed. Poor development of this can result in serious mental problems (attachment theory) and low self- esteem.
We are born unable to control our impulses, learning how to manage our emotions (‘delay gratification’) is essential to humans being successful. We need to learn to achieve ‘long term gain’ despite ‘short term pain’
We will experience difficulties from the moment we are born and unless we learn from these setbacks and experiences we cannot become resilient and unprepared to try to overcome difficulties (succeed)
Humans are ‘social animals’ and much of our motivation and pleasure involves relationships with others, and unless we learn to understand and appreciate how other people feel we cannot relate or benefit from them.
Since ‘relationships’ are so important to us, unless we learn to handle a wide variety of relationships and deal effectively with them we are likely to feel lonely, rejected, frustrated, angry and unhappy. The quality of our life is greatly affected by how well we ‘get on with’ other people, and these skills will be key to our effectiveness and success. Our success usually depends on learning to become an effective leader and avoiding following other people’s poor decisions.
Chapter 10 – ‘Assessing The Skills Needed To Succeed’
Page 69 – ‘Stacey and Suzi stood and admired their posters on the wall.
“Do you think you understand what they all mean, Suze?” Stacey asked.
“Just about, though some of those words are new to me like cognitive, analytical, conceptual, resilient, gratification, and empathy. If you do this ‘Assessing the skills we need to succeed’, it should help.’
For each of the ‘8 Skills We Need To Succeed’ try to explain what things you would use to make a decision on what grade to give.
Assessing the skills we need to succeed
10 – DEFINITELY/EXCELLENT- IT OCCURS ALL OF THE TIME
8 – VERY GOOD – IT OCCURS MOST OF THE TIME
6 – FAIRLY GOOD – IT OCCURS SOME OF THE TIME
4 – O.K.- – IT OCCURS OCCASIONALLY
2 – VERY WEAK – IT OCCURS RARELY
0 – NO – IT DOES NOT OCCUR AT ALL
|Copes with challenges and change comfortably
Readily develops new skills
Learns effectively independently
|Concentrates intently despite distraction.
Verbal skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)
Non-verbal skills (visual gestures, body language, touch)
“Surely I’ll be better on the ‘Communication skills’. Arthur helped me understand this skill, these verbal skills are when we use words, particularly speaking and listening, I often misunderstand what people are saying and they don’t understand me. Obviously, I’m rubbish at reading and writing. Non-verbal skills are visual gestures, body language and touch. I didn’t understand these at all until Arthur explained it to me. We actually communicate loads of information by the tone of our voice and the expressions on our face, as well as our body positions and what we do with our hands, arms and legs.
Arthur illustrated to me that I frequently ‘sent out or picked up the wrong signals’, apparently many of my problems with boys and their girl friends relates to this.”
|Understands ‘cause and effect’ and detects the key information (factors) to make decisions (Analytical thinking)
Puts information into context so is able to understand and relate information to the situation (Conceptual thinking)
Able to recognise and make decisions that have very positive consequences.
“I’ve never heard of ‘Cognitive skills’ before, what’s this one mean?”
“These are the skills we use to solve problems, it is what we use to refer to as ‘intelligence’. This is what we are supposed to develop in school in maths and science. Unfortunately, I’ve not really done much of this over the years; I found them so boring so I just switched off. I’ve rarely tried to work out why things happen and I reckon I’ve rarely thought how we work out the result or conclusion to a problem using logic or ‘common sense’. Furthermore I’ve almost never been able to make good decisions.”
|Knows and accepts what they are feeling, and can label their feelings.
Can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and feel positive about themselves.
Can reflect on their actions and identify lessons to be learned from them.
“This next skill is ‘Self-awareness’, which is actually what I am practising now. I’ve begun to realise how confused I’ve been about my feelings. I’ve actually been blaming everyone for everything because I’ve been so frustrated and angry. Arthur has already helped me so much to understand myself more, and how little I actually know and accept my feelings.
I am obviously poor at identifying my strengths and weaknesses, and I certainly don’t feel positive about myself. This assessment is showing how little I really know about myself and I suspect few people have done an assessment on these essential skills. I have probably never reflected on my actions and identified the lessons to be learned from them.
Until Arthur visited me I don’t think I’ve learnt any lessons from mine or others experiences and this process of reflection, what we’re doing now, is virtually a first for me.”
|Have a range of strategies for managing impulses and strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, stress and jealousy so that they do not lead them to behave in ways that would have negative consequences for them or for other people.||0|
“The next skill is ‘Managing Feelings’. I’ve spent much of my life avoiding showing emotions or trying to pretend I feel different to what I actually do, and I have never considered that my feelings can have a significant impact both on other people and on what happens to them. Now I think about it, this is incredibly stupid and selfish, since my behaviour clearly caused so many problems for others like you and mum and dad.”
|Can view errors as part of the normal learning process, and bounce back from disappointment or failure(Resilient)
Can use their experiences, including mistakes and setbacks, to make appropriate changes to their plans and behaviours.
Can take responsibility for their lives, believe that they can influence what happens to them and make wise choices. (Internal locus of control)
‘Motivation’. I spent my teenage years desperately avoiding doing anything that might result in failure and being totally crushed by any disappointments. I couldn’t really cope with setbacks so learning from them has never really happened. I’ve been unable to take responsibility or make wise choices. Arthur demonstrated clearly that I try to blame everyone and anything for any problem I meet.”
|Can work out how people are feeling through their words, body language, gestures, and tone.
Can see the world from other people’s emotions and points of view, taking into account their intentions, preferences and beliefs and can feel with and for them.
Can shows respect (care and consideration) for people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and for people with diverse interests, attainments, attitudes, and values, and they are interested in, enjoy and celebrate differences
“Now this skill, ‘Empathy’ is about how well we understand others and I haven’t got a clue what other’s are feeling, I usually assume they are the same as me. I’ve not tried to see others views at all really, I think that’s why I’ve bullied others so much. My lack of respect for you, mum and dad, let alone anybody else is pretty obvious so another very low score.”
|Can work and learn well in groups, taking on different roles, cooperating with others to achieve a joint outcome.
Can achieve an appropriate level of independence from others, charting and following their own course while maintaining positive relationships with others.
Can give and receive feedback and use their experiences to help make decisions to improve their and other people’s achievements
“The last essential skill is ‘Social Skills’, which ought to be a strength as I like being with my mates, but I’ve got a feeling it won’t be. I’ve struggled to work with anyone so far and unable to cooperate with others has repeatedly been stated as a problem. Maintaining positive relationships with others has clearly been beyond me so far. I’ve not managed to have any long term close friends, boyfriends or jobs. I’m rubbish at taking criticism and praising others, or learning from them.”
Chapter 11 – ‘How The Skills Are Learnt’
The 5 Learning Requirements for Social and Emotional Skills
|MOTIVATION||We are motivated to ‘belong and feel attached’, so we need people to regularly teach and MODEL THEM|
|CONCENTRATION (REFLECTION)||Opportunities and time to focus and reflect (think deeply) on our difficulties, experiences and feelings|
|ENVIRONMENT||Time and environments that allow us to observe, reflect and discuss our difficulties, experiences and feelings|
|Tasks involving interaction with people to share difficulties, experiences and feelings eg. Games, hobbies, challenges, and team activities|
|FEELING SUCCESS||Experience the elation in overcoming difficulties, and the importance of encouragement or emotionally healthy constructive criticism|
1) Page 80 – “Stacey, your parents had no idea what you were learning, or how or why, and most parents are like this, so they did not deliberately model any of these 8 essential skills so whether you copied them was just by chance.”
Stacey was fascinated already and asked at this point.
“I suppose very few parents actually know the skills their children need and so could not possibly deliberately model or demonstrate it to them.”
What do you think parents might think is most important for children to learn and why should they think this?
2) Page 81 – “a lot of what children have learnt over the years has been down to chance, and you were born at a time when lots of distractions occur in the home, especially television. Therefore, the chances of young people learning what they really need have decreased a great deal.”
What sort of activities do you think families would do before television was introduced?
3) Page 81 – “your parents, like most, tended to ‘give in’ too easily and did not know what you really needed, they often just gave you what you wanted, so you were too often denied the opportunity to learn these skills.”
Try to give examples of things that Stacey’s parents may have done which meant they were ‘giving in’ and not providing Stacey with what she needed?
4) Page 82 – “Stan is developing his skills from both his mother and his sister as they are interacting, doing things, with him and with each other. They are repeatedly talking to him, reading to him, playing with him, stopping him from doing things, and leaving him to play on his own.”
What skills do you think Stan is learning from these activities?
5) Page 82 – “Now 5 years later, you are again watching television, still no interaction, another 5 years and you are 10, you are either watching television, playing on your playstation, or playing on your computer, still no interaction.”
What skills do you think Stacey needs but is unable to learn because she’s doing these activities?
6) Page 83 – “Learning skills takes a lot of time and practice, hundreds and thousands of hours of practice to really develop them. Consider learning to speak, read, write, catch, throw, kick, drive etc. these are relatively simple skills, but they need many hours of practice,”
Try these steps below:-
- Fold your arms across your chest
- Study which hand is ‘on top’
- Fold your arms ‘the other way round’
- Put your arms out straight in front of you
- QUICKLY fold your arms ‘the other way round’
How many hours do you think you have practised folding your arms the wrong way round?
7) Page 83 – “the 8 skills we need to succeed are much more complex and need many more hours of practice. Furthermore, the practice for these requires tasks involving interaction with people to share difficulties, experiences and feelings e.g. games, hobbies, challenges, and team activities, which you rarely ever did.”
Give examples of the sort of games, hobbies, challenges, and team activities that can develop these 8 skills.
Chapter 12 – ‘Our technology has exceeded our humanity’
1) Page 87 – “That’s exactly what it shows, the most commonly used methods of learning are the poorest” Suzi added. “The most effective one is ‘Teaching Others’, that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few days,”
Study the Learning Pyramid and discuss where and when you have used each method, and which do you think “Assessment for Learning” uses.
2) Page 90 – “I was thinking about when I was learning to ride a bike. Dad took me out on to the street with my new bike on a cold, windy day a few Christmases ago; I couldn’t ride it at all. In fact, I fell over, hurt my knee and got really upset and didn’t touch the bike until the summer. We went to the park on a nice sunny day, and I learnt to ride the bike easily on the short flat grass, ‘cos I didn’t hurt my knee when I fell over”.
Try to suggest other examples where the Five Learning Requirements are used.
|THE FIVE LEARNING REQUIREMENTS
Whatever you are trying to learn you need the following:
3) Page 91 – “We are born depending on people, usually our parents and immediately start copying them. It seems we are being taught these skills all the time because people are demonstrating them, ‘Modelling them’ was how Arthur described it. Usually we want to learn these skills to be like them or to impress them.”
Suggest examples of what children have learnt by copying their parents (their parents have modelled them).
4) Page 92 – “This is why although our concentration is not good when we are born, it can improve quickly if these learning requirements are applied. If we get lots of attention and lots of practice to learn to concentrate when we are very young our brains develop this ‘deep imprint’ and we can develop good concentration skills.”
Suggest examples of activities that babies and toddlers may have that can improve their ability to concentrate and attention span.
5) Page 92 – “So, basically because we now have loads of television channels, computers, DVDs, internet and stuff, parents aren’t spending as much time with their children.”
Try to work out approximately how many hours each week you are watching television and videos, or spending time on the computer (playing games, chatting, watching videos etc.)
6) Page 93 – “I think I understand it, ‘our humanity’ means the development of the skills that are essential to humans has been replaced by our electronic gadgets.“
Discuss the message in this poster and decide if you agree or disagree with it and why?
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein
Chapter 13 – ‘Probably The Most Difficult Job In the World’
|Name:||Skills Needed To Succeed Report|
10 – DEFINITELY/EXCELLENT- IT OCCURS ALL OF THE TIME
8 – VERY GOOD – IT OCCURS MOST OF THE TIME
6 – FAIRLY GOOD – IT OCCURS SOME OF THE TIME
4 – O.K.- – IT OCCURS OCCASIONALLY
2 – VERY WEAK – IT OCCURS RARELY
0 – NO – IT DOES NOT OCCUR AT ALL
|Effective Learning –
Copes with challenges and change comfortably, readily develops new skills and learns effectively independently
Communication skills – Concentrates intently despite distraction. Verbal skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) Non-verbal skills (visual gestures, body language, touch)
Cognitive skills – Understands ‘cause and effect’ and detects the key information (factors) to make decisions (Analytical thinking) Puts information into context so is able to understand and relate information to the situation (Conceptual thinking) Able to recognise and make decisions that have very positive consequences.
Self-awareness – Knows and accepts what they are feeling, and can label their feelings. Can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and feel positive about themself. Can reflect on their actions and identify lessons to be learned from them.
Managing Feelings – Have a range of strategies for managing impulses and strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, stress and jealousy so that they do not lead them to behave in ways that would have negative consequences for them or for other people.
Motivation – Can view errors as part of the normal learning process, and bounce back from disappointment or failure.(Resilient) Can take responsibility for their lives, believe that they can influence what happens to them and make wise choices. (Internal locus of control)
Empathy – Can work out how people are feeling through their words, body language, gestures, and tone. Can see the world from other people’s emotions and points of view, taking into account their intentions, preferences and beliefs and can feel with and for them.
Social skills – Can work and learn well in groups, taking on different roles, cooperating with others to achieve a joint outcome. Can give and receive feedback and use their experiences to help make decisions to improve their and other people’s achievements.
1) Page 96 Consider the attempts by Stacey and Suzi, and try to grade yourself on these 8 skills and discuss it with others
2) Page 99 – “Basically, life as a child growing up years ago used to be very different. When your parents were children they didn’t have television and spent much of their time speaking, listening, reading and playing with their parents, other family members and friends. This meant they were practising these 8 skills all day and everyday.”
Attempt the “When I Was 12” sheet for yourself and for your grandparents (about 1955-60) and compare the two.
|When I Was 12
How many of the list below did you have when you were a 12 year old child? Tick the ones you can recall were available to you.
- Page 102 – “I think that’s why all this is so fascinating and important. Until last night, we never thought about these things before. We never really considered what Stacey and Suzi needed to learn when they were growing up, let alone knowing what these ‘skills’ are and how important they might be”
Read the poster “GROWING UP IN A DIFFERENT WORLD” and discuss how it compares with your life today.
|GROWING UP IN A DIFFERENT WORLD
According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 70’s and early 80’s probably shouldn’t have survived, because:
Our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.
We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem -solvers and inventors, ever.
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
Page 105 – “I think that’s why all this is so fascinating and important. Until last night, we never thought about these things before. We never really considered what Stacey and Suzi needed to learn when they were growing up, let alone knowing what these ‘skills’ are and how important they might be. But I don’t think we’ve been any different to most parents, we’ve just been trying to do what we thought was best for our kids.”
Nan commented on this.
“I must admit, I would not like to be a parent now, it seems so difficult. It’s not enough just to love them and believe your doing the right things. It’s much more complicated than that now”
Consider what it is like being a parent today compared to 50 years ago and discuss if you agree with Nan and the statement below.
Possibly the most difficult job in the world-
Being a GOOD parent in the 21st century
Chapter 14 – ‘The Incapable Generation’
- Page 106 – “Parents today have my utmost sympathy.” said Gran. “I’ve watched a lot of these reality television programmes where they have cameras in the home and I can’t believe what happens. The kids are so rude and disrespectful, and the parents are almost as bad. Everyone is shouting at each other, the kids seem to do as they please, it’s horrible”
Consider this comment on the reality TV programmes in various homes, do you think they reflect the situation in most homes?
2) Page 106 – “Actually Nan, you don’t have to have lots of qualifications now to get jobs, especially since so many jobs now are dealing with customers.” Said Suzi. “We found some very interesting stuff about jobs on the internet, which surprised us. Look at this.”
|2005 National Employers Skills Survey –
The Learning Skills Council Skills Lacking –
in order of importance
2) Customer-handling skills
3) Technical & Practical skills
4) Oral communication
5) Problem-solving skills
6) Written communication
7) Management skills
8) General IT user skills
9) Literacy skills
10) Numeracy skills
Look carefully at this list, why do you think the top 5 skills are in such short supply?
3) Page 107 – Do you think these social and emotional skills have always been important or is this new?
|‘In the 2004 Enterprise survey of 20,000 employers in the UK, employers were most worried about lack of skills such as customer handling, problem solving and teamworking. In fact, research has shown that social and emotional skills had more correlation with success in the labour market than cognitive skills, IQ and formal qualifications’(Cunha et al., 2005).|
4) Page 108 – “When I go into shops and in our supermarket, the assistants are hopeless. They don’t seem able to listen to you, can’t find anything, don’t seem to care and are rude to you. I suppose that’s why customer handling skills are in short supply.” Mum commented.
“That’s because most of us have spent the last 5 years communicating by mobiles, text, e-mail, and facebook. We hardly listen and talk to each other anymore, so young people aren’t very good at it.” Stacey observed. “There’s a bit more to that article which makes this point further.”
The Incapable Generation
‘many young people today are left simply incapable of succeeding in the current socio-economic climate.’
‘in just over a decade, personal and social skills or “capabilities” became 33 times more important in determining relative life chances’
Raising Youth In A Changing World – IPPR Research (Nov 2006) (page 2)
Consider these comments and the poster, do you agree with what they are saying?
Chapter 15 – The Family Forum
1) Page 110 – “For centuries, humans have spent vast quantities of time discussing various topics. The early villages and then the communities in small towns often grew out of family life or worked together to survive, all using extensive discussions to overcome their difficulties. This meant everyone had lots and lots of practice at developing their communication, cognitive, self-awareness, managing emotions, motivation, empathy and social skills.
In the 21st century, this no longer really occurs and in-depth discussions on a wide range of important topics rarely occur.”
What opportunities do you get to have good discussions to practise these skills?
- “Well, I thought it was brilliant, it felt great knowing so much useful stuff and being able to help them learn. We’ve had a few lessons like this at school, not very often though. I think they were called ‘Philosophy for Children’ or ‘Circle Time’ or something. I really enjoyed them, we didn’t do any writing but I learnt loads. I don’t know why we only had a few of them. I’d love to have them at home.
Would you like to have Family Forums in your home –why?
- Page 112 – “This diagram of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, is apparently now widely accepted and used as ‘what motivates us’. It attempts to explain our ‘needs and desires’ starting at the bottom first and each one has to be achieved before this next one up applies. It makes a lot of sense.”
Study the diagram of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, does ‘it make a lot of sense’ to you and why do you think it is not more widely known?
|This is what motivates us in life –
We always have to start at the bottom,
we struggle to move up if we don’t have it
MASLOW’S HIERACHY OF NEEDS
4) Page 114 – “I replaced that with my friends, peers and especially boyfriends. I’ve spent many years desperately trying to be accepted by them and failed completely.” Stacey replied. “I think my actions and thinking was also influenced by the next, the fourth need or priority, ‘Self-Esteem’. I think this is about how we see ourselves, what we think is important, our values. It says if these needs are not met, we feel inferior, weak, helpless and worthless. So we strive for a high level of self-respect, and respect from others in order to feel satisfied, self confident and valuable.”
Do you think this comment reflects how many teenagers are motivated – why?
- Page 116 – “I bought it years ago for that very reason, which must be almost 20 years ago. When I consider what we were talking about yesterday, it seems even more relevant now.” Gran commented. “When I was growing up, I had my family all around me most of the time. We played games all the time and I watched them do those things on the left hand side of the poster, especially my dad, Arthur, he was such a great role model.”
Study both this comment and the poster below, discuss how much you agree with what is being said and how much do you think it affects our learning.
| Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law NolteIf children live with criticism, They learn to condemn If children live with hostility They learn to fight.If children live with ridicule, They learn to be shy.If children live with shame, They learn to feel guilty.If children live with encouragement, They learn confidence If children live with tolerance, They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance, They learn to love.
If children live with approval, They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty, They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security, They learn to have faith in
themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness, They learn the world is a
nice place in which to live.
Chapter 16 – Self-Esteem and Positive Parenting
1) Page 120 – “I think this could be a useful poster, it seems to explain and summarise Self-Esteem’ very well. What do you reckon?”
|Self-Esteem is the belief that they are capable of overcoming difficulties in their lives to achieve success and happiness.
People with High Self-Esteem have a positive attitude to life and believe they are capable of overcoming the difficulties they meet. They are keen to take on new experiences, seeing them as challenges, not problems.
People with Low Self-Esteem have a negative attitude to life and do not feel they are responsible or can overcome their difficulties. They will often show the following characteristics:
· Focus on trying to prove themselves or impress others.
· Tend to use or put down others for their own gain.
· May act with arrogance and contempt towards others.
· Repeatedly try to convince themselves of their worth.
· Reluctant to take risks to expose themselves to failure.
· Frequently blame others for their shortcomings rather than take responsibility for their actions.
Study this poster, is this information new to you and why do you think most people understand so little about it?
- Page 122 – “I think I had very low Self-Esteem’ throughout my teenage years, all those characteristics for low self-esteem applied to me.
There is a lot of evidence to say that most teenagers have low self-esteem like Stacey, do you think this is probably true –why?
- Page 123 – Stacey added. “The assessment said that if you have no or just one tick you probably have good or high self esteem. Between 2 and 5 ticks you have average but fragile self esteem, more than 5 then you have low self esteem and I got 11 ticks!”
Attempt this assessment and discuss your score.
|Assessing Your Self Esteem 1
Read each statement and tick it if you feel it tends to apply to you
1) When I make mistakes I tend to either feel embarrassed, blame others if possible and claim ‘I don’t make mistakes’ and desperately hope no one spotted it.
2) When I look at myself in the mirror, I tend to see someone who is not very good at overcoming difficulties.
3) When I try to solve problems I tend to spend a lot of time and effort looking for who or what I think caused the situation and who to complain about.
4) If my views are different from those of others, I am likely to keep quiet or agree to avoid embarrassment.
5) When I think about the main aims in my life, I tend not to know what I should be doing or even where to start.
6) When I make a commitment to myself to change and improve I tend to fail to stick to it and return to my ‘old ways’.
7) When I talk to myself, I tend to be very critical and negative, putting myself down and beating myself up emotionally.
8) When other people comment on my actions I tend to think they are saying something negative about me and take it very personally, or get defensive and often respond with a negative reaction to them.
9) I tend to gossip/talk about other people and readily discuss their faults.
10) I will always try to tell people what I’ve done or let them know my strengths.
11) Unless I feel I am very good at something I am unlikely to attempt it.
4) Page 122 – “I have come across some stuff on parenting which may help and I think that poster Mum found has some clues in it. This stuff on parenting is called ‘Positive Parenting’ and apparently it’s what ‘Supernanny’ and people on the telly tend to use. It seems modern effective approaches to parenting are based around this.”
Study this poster and discuss how much you agree with it and have observed it.
|‘AN ENCOURAGED CHILD HAS NO NEED TO MISBEHAVE’ (Rudolf Dreikurs)
The most effective way to change the behaviour of people, particularly children, is to use encouragement. The method of encouragement is dependent on the goal, aim or need behind the behaviour or action.
Goal Child’s Belief
Attention “I count (belong) only when I’m being noticed or getting special service.”
“I’m only important when I’m keeping you busy with me.”
Power “I belong only when I’m boss or in control, or proving no one can boss me.”
“You can’t make me.”
Revenge “I don’t think I belong so I’ll hurt others as I feel hurt.” “I can’t be liked or loved.”
Inadequacy “I don’t believe I can belong, so I’ll
(Assumed) convince others not to expect anything of me.”
“I am helpless and unable; it’s no use trying because I won’t do it right.”
5) Page 125 – “Well, they’ve got 2 versions, this one focuses on positive or high self esteem, I did one earlier which concentrated on low self-esteem. The scores for this one are:
5 or more ticks, high self esteem,
2 to 4 ticks, average self-esteem.
Less than 2 ticks, low self esteem.”
Attempt “Assessing Your Self Esteem 2” and discuss your score.
|Assessing Your Self Esteem 2
Read each statement and tick it if you feel it tends to apply to you
1) When I make mistakes I tend to consider what I could’ve done to avoid it and think what I’ve learnt from it.
2) When I look at myself in the mirror, I tend to see someone who is confident and pleased to be me.
3) When I try to solve problems I tend to be able to analyse what caused the situation and able to work (with others if needed) to overcome them.
4) If my views are different from those of others, I am keen and able to argue my point and work with them towards an agreed solution.
5) When I think about the main aims in my life, I tend focus on what is needed to achieve it.
6) When I make a commitment to myself to change and improve I tend to stick to it despite setbacks and difficulties.
7) When I talk to myself, I tend to be very positive, persuading myself I can do it and become recharged.
8) When other people comment on my actions I tend to think carefully about what they are saying and why, and then decide if I can learn from it.
9) I rarely talk negatively about other people, but try to understand why they think and behave in that way.
10) I rarely tell people what I’ve achieved; I let others do that for me, though I will inform them of my mistakes and weaknesses.
11) I thoroughly enjoy trying new things, even though I am likely to be poor at it and ‘show myself up’.
6) Page 125 – “I was really impressed with the stuff about the skills we need to succeed, and it helped me understand why so many people struggle. If young people aren’t learning these skills they won’t be capable of overcoming their difficulties and wont believe they can either.”
Discuss how much you agree with this comment.
7) Page 126 – “Your dad never talked about his feelings or concerns either, Steve. Men didn’t do that sort of thing; they just ‘bottled it all up’. They weren’t brought up in that way, we didn’t know anything about those skills or how important they are. You had loads of problems when you were a teenager, not as bad as Stacey’s, I admit, but you’ve never been able to talk about your problems, even after your dad died. He smoked and drunk too much and you’re just doing the same.”
Discuss how common you think this inability of men to talk about their feelings is and what problems it causes.
8) “Perhaps you could start by giving up smoking like Stacey has. It did kill your dad, Steve. Why did you start?” Nan asked.
“I think I can answer that, Nan.” Stacey answered. “It seems that the only reason that people start smoking is because they lack the essential skills, especially self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation and social skills. There appears to be absolutely no positives in taking up smoking but 25% of 15 and 16 year olds smoke. It now seems obvious that it is because they have low self esteem and start to copy others, to feel they are accepted or to try to impress others. That’s why I started and I bet that’s why Dad started.”
Can you think of any good reason to start smoking and discuss your answer.
9) Page 127 – “this is the key part to ‘positive parenting’ which are on the TV programmes and it explains the best way to treat children is to use encouragement and try to avoid being negative by keep telling them off and punishing them. It seems that developing children in this positive way helps to promote good self esteem. “The most important part is to develop their children’s cognitive and self-awareness skills by consistently modelling and explaining what they should be doing and why, so that the children understand and learn to manage their emotions. Here is a set of suggestions that you might interest you”
Consider these comments and the poster “How to increase and reduce conflict and create problems” and discuss how much you agree or disagree with them.
|1.How to increase conflict and create problems
· Threaten the child
· View the conflict as a contest
· Handle in front of an audience
· Use threatening gestures and body language
· Give the child no room for manoeuvre
· Raise your voice and sound angry
· Deliver unrealistic ultimatums that cannot be implemented
2.How to reduce conflict and problems
· Label the behaviour not the child
· Avoid threatening gestures and body language
· Give the child a choice, but not an ultimatum
· Avoid dealing with the conflict in front of an audience
· Stay calm (at least on the outside) but don’t try to soothe the child as this can make them even more angry
· Give the child time to comply
· Explain clearly what you want
· Show empathy
· Use humour to defuse the situation
10) Page 128 –
“You weren’t alone in that, Steve. I reckon I did as well” Said Mum.
“And me.” Said Gran. ”But I’d never heard of self esteem, positive parenting or the skills we need to succeed in those days, so how could we know the harm we were doing.”
“Exactly right, Sarah” Agreed Nan. “But how many parents know about it now, do you reckon?”
“Hardly any, I suspect. So no wonder so many young people have low self esteem and huge problems.” Sheila replied.
Discuss these comments and suggest why there seems to be so little help, support and advice provided for parents.
Chapter 17 – Depression, Mental Health, Self Harm and Suicide
1) Page 130 – “Last week when I attempted suicide, Suze, I thought I was very unusual and I didn’t fit in. Now I’ve found these statistics and news articles, I’ve realised I’m almost normal for a young person these days. I can’t believe how many suffer from depression, have mental health problems, commit self harm and suicide; I’m not unusual at all?” Stacey remarked.
How aware are you of the problem of depression and mental health, discuss this problem.
2) Page 130 – “the ‘buzz’ is like being on drugs, but much better and healthier with no hangover or drawback. I feel like I’m on a high all the time, I can’t wait to get up each day. It seems the more I learn, the more I want to learn and the buzz I get from helping you, Dad, Mum, Nan and Gran is brilliant. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,
Have you ever felt like this, discuss this with others.
|‘The truth about self-harm’ from the Mental Health Foundation.
· The phrase ‘self-harm’ is used to describe a range of things that people do to themselves in a deliberate and usually hidden way. It can involve:cutting, burning, scalding, banging or scratching one’s own body, breaking bones, hair pulling, swallowing poisonous substances or objects.
· Research shows that 1 in 15 young people in Britain have harmed themselves. Another way of looking at it is that there are probably two young people in every secondary school classroom who have done it at some time. This means it’s a very common problem.
· Most young people who harm themselves are aged 11-25.
· The age at which most people start is 12, but some as young as 7 have been known to do it.
· As one young person put it, many people self-harm to ‘get out the hurt, anger and pain’ caused by pressures in their lives. They harm themselves because they don’t know what else to do and because they don’t have, or don’t feel they have, any other options.
· For some young people, self-harm gives temporary relief and a sense of control over their lives. But it brings its own very serious problems.
3) Page 131 – “The first one is an article from the ‘Mental Health Foundation’ on Self Harm. Do any of you know anyone who has self harmed, apart from me?” Stacey asked.
They all nodded to express that they didn’t.
“Did you self harm, Stacey? I didn’t know you cut yourself.” Sheila, her mum asked.
“Self harm is not just about cutting yourself, Mum. “Have a look at this.” Stacey replied.
Study the poster ‘The truth about self-harm’ from the Mental Health Foundation and discuss how your awareness of ‘self-harm and the information in the poster.
4) Page 132 – “I watched a TV programme the other day that was about an 8 year old anorexic, and I suppose this is reflecting a similar problem.”
“An 8 year old anorexic? That sounds interesting as well.” Stacey said and was clearly keen to add this to her research.
“It says ‘self-harm gives temporary relief and a sense of control over their lives’, so I suppose there are similarities, to anorexia. But how can these kids feel so bad about themselves?” Dad asked.
“It must be related to their low self esteem, the stuff we looked at yesterday. But what causes them to feel that low?” Nan asked
Discuss what understand by ‘ANOREXIA’ and why you think it may be so common these days.
5) Page 133 – “One in ten suffering from diagnosed mental health problems. How many go undiagnosed?” Nan asked.
“This is dreadful.” Mum commented. “This is like ‘epidemic proportions’ it’s almost as though it’s normal for them to be depressed, why is that?”
Discuss the poster below and suggest what sort of “urgent action to prevent mental health problems” you think should occur.
|A million children now suffer from mental health problems
More than a million children have mental health problems, a doubling of the number in a generation, devastating research reveals an epidemic of disorders ranging from depression, anxiety and anorexia to violent delinquency has struck one in ten youngsters.
The children’s charity, NCH, called for urgent action to prevent mental health problems wrecking the prospects of a generation.
6) Page 134 – Why do so many men, in particular, want to commit suicide?” Gran asked.
“Because they don’t talk about their feelings and concerns, they let them build up until they can’t cope anymore. That’s what we touched upon the other day. I know that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m determined to change that.” Dad answered with a great deal of confidence and emotion.
Consider this comment and the poster below, why do you think so many men find it difficult to talk about their feelings and what do you suggest could be done to help them.
Suicide is the most common cause of death in men aged under 35
(Men’s Health Forum, 2002)
Teen male suicides hit ‘crisis’ levels
The psychiatrist, who carried out the research, says the statistics under-estimate the true extent of the problem because coroners prefer to classify unexplained deaths as “undetermined” or “accidental” if there is any doubt.
“It is something of a crisis for young males.
“It is always a mistake to look for one single cause, but it is probably a crisis of confidence among these young people.
There are many, many more suicides in the ‘undetermined deaths’ category who are suicides, but aren’t labelled because coroners are more reluctant to give a verdict of suicide.”
Nineteen Young Suicides In Bridgend
In the last 12 months, 19 young people under the age of 27, many of them in their teens, have committed suicide in and around the South Wales town of Bridgend. The latest death is the 34th since 2006.
Officially, an inquest into five of the deaths, held on March 19, said that the deaths were not related.
A 24-year-old man from Maesteg whose death was investigated at the inquest, was described as “happy go lucky,” with no overt signs of depression.
A relative told the press.
“We just don’t know what is going on in Bridgend. Kelly and Nathaniel were both brilliant kids with good futures ahead of them. We would never have thought in a million years that they were capable of anything like this.
None of this makes sense.”
7) Page 136 – “If people don’t talk to each other about how they feel and what is worrying them, how will they know what’s causing there problems and how they can solve them.” Nan replied. “We’ve discovered over the last few days that people don’t talk and listen to each other anymore. The kids can’t develop the skills they need to succeed and go from one problem to another, not learning anything until they get to a point that they give up trying, or self-destruct, or worse still ‘kill each other’.”
Consider this comment and the poster below, what do you suggest could occur to overcome these problems?
|Warning over youth mental health
Young unemployed adults need more help to deal with mental health problems, the Prince’s Trust charity has warned.
One in 10 youngsters questioned in a survey disagreed that “life was really worth living”. Those not in work or education were less likely to be happy.
Polling company YouGov questioned 2,004 people aged 16-25 online in October. Paul Brow, of the Prince’s Trust, said the study showed there were thousands of young people who “desperately” needed support. He added: “Often young people who feel they have reached rock bottom don’t know where to turn for help.”
Of those questioned, 29% said they are less happy now than they were as a child and one in five said they felt like crying “often” or “always”.
Almost half (47%) said they were regularly stressed.
8) Page 136 – “You’re talking about these gangs, stabbing and shooting each other. I suppose those kids just don’t care about themselves or anybody else, just like the kids in these articles”.
Why do you think so many young people are in gangs and involved in stabbings and shootings?
9) Page 136 – “Apparently almost 25% of students drop out of university because they can’t cope with managing their lives as a result of not having these skills. Being good at exams doesn’t seem to have much to do with being happy. “
Discuss this comment, why do you think there has been so much importance placed on exam success?
Chapter 18 – Locus of Control and Mindsets
- Page 139 – “Well you now seem very aware that the key to success is having the 8 skills you need to succeed being well developed. When I showed you the life of the Stacey you could’ve been, I pointed out that the only difference between you and her was that by the age of 11 she did have these skills well developed and you did not. This is true for virtually all teenagers, they need to have these skills well developed as they begin their teenage years since their brains and bodies undergo such change and problems that without these skills their chances of coping are minimal.”
Discuss how much you agree with this comment
- Page 140 – “The brain’s frontal lobe is important in managing and controlling our behaviour and thoughts, and is also crucial to concentration, allowing us to focus and increase our attention span. It seems likely that hyperactivity (ADHD) comes when children can’t inhibit or control their movements due to poorly developed concentration. Basically the frontal lobes can’t manage the competing thoughts and emotions. It appears that when a child enters puberty the initial burst of hormones may cause dramatic ‘disconnection’ of the neuron pathways to and from the frontal lobe. This explains why, when they’re feeling things they can’t control themselves and cannot even explain what it is they’re feeling. It seems that teenagers have to go through another period when their pre-frontal lobes are trying to learn to work more efficiently. This frontal lobe is the part of the brain that makes people ‘human’ and different from the rest of the animals.”
Study this information and suggest examples of behaviours or views that may illustrate these changes in teenagers.
- Page 141 – “Since one of the key roles of the frontal lobe is developing our understanding and interpreting the facial expressions of others, teenagers seem not to be very good at this and will often struggle to detect various expressions on peoples’ faces. This meant you began to struggle to communicate with boys, your friends and others very well and frequently seemed to misunderstand their gestures, subtle comments, signs and body language, that they often felt were obvious. This frustration almost certainly contributed towards your quick loss of temper, frequent annoyance and aggression”
Discuss how much you agree with these comments.
- Page 141 – “You and your friends put a very high value on being attractive, ‘sexy’, and having the ‘right look and label’. This was because you, like so many teenage girls, were so influenced by television, film and pop stars, media celebrities and fashion. Unfortunately, if a person puts a high value on things that depends a great deal on other people’s opinion, it means they don’t have much control over it. This is called their ‘locus of control’, so it means ‘their life is not in their own hands’. Your teenage years were controlled by other people’s opinions and obviously you became frustrated and upset on many occasions. Teenagers, who repeatedly compare themselves with others, increasingly tend to feel more powerless, frustrated, angry, desperate and particularly depressed.”
Discuss examples of this that you have observed over the years.
5) Page 143 – “ For you and many teenagers you desperately wanted to have boys being attracted to you because it made you feel important and attached”.
Several scenes of Stacey wearing low cut tops and short skirts chatting up boys and fighting girls emphasised his point.
“Unfortunately, this was too superficial and you relied on using sex and advertising sex to attract them. Sadly this meant that the boys weren’t actually attracted to you as a person but simply to what they could get from you, so it actually lowered your self esteem and made you feel used and no sense of belonging.”
Stacey could obviously appreciate this and said.
“This is very true, because I gained such a reputation as a slag or slapper that my self esteem hit rock bottom, and was a major factor in my suicide attempt.”
Consider this information and discuss how common this is with young people and the problems that it produces.
Chapter 19 -Trying To Understand Teenagers
- Page 146 – “We’re going to start with a science lesson, biology. We’re going to study the human brain and how it causes us to learn. We learn because connections between parts of the brain are formed, they are called ‘Neuron Pathways’. Our brain receives and records information with the thickening of these pathways, so that the more this happens the thicker the pathway. This means we have learnt skills because we’ve repeated the activity so many times that the neuron pathways have become very thick and so the messages can easily flow through the brain. If the activity is not repeated enough the pathway is too thin and information is not passed very well so we don’t learn and can’t do it. The phrase ‘Use it or lose it’ is often applied to illustrate this learning in the brain.”
Suzi interrupted with this suggestion.
“So we learn by making links between parts of the brain, like having a strip of sellotape joining them together. The more strips of sellotape the stronger the link, the stronger the learning.”
“This means unless there are very strong connections between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain, the sellotape is very thick as you describe it Suze, when they start to thin during puberty the frontal lobe will not have much effect on the rest of the brain. Therefore, teenagers are likely to be poor at organising, reasoning and problem solving, decision making and recognising emotions. The effects of alcohol are very similar though temporary, alcohol reduces the control the frontal lobe exerts on our emotional brain and we do stupid things because of our emotional brain takes over.”
Consider this information and the poster on “TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHY TEENAGERS THINK AND BEHAVE SO DIFFERENTLY” and discuss how you think this explains different types of behaviour that is characteristic of teenagers
|TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHY TEENAGERS THINK AND BEHAVE SO DIFFERENTLY
The bizarre behaviour of teenagers appears to be more explained by their neurobiology (brain development) rather than their hormones.
It’s been thought for a long time that brain development was set at a fairly early age and by the time children became teenagers the development of their brain was thought to be largely finished. Scientists have discovered the brain continues to change into the early 20’s with the frontal lobes, responsible for reasoning and problem solving, developing last. This means that the part of the brain largely responsible for decision making doesn’t fully develop until young adulthood.
In calm situations, teenagers can think rationally almost as well as adults, but stress can hijack ‘thinking and decision-making’.
The frontal lobes tend to help manage or control the emotional part of the brain, reducing the desire for thrills and risk – taking, common characteristics of teenage behaviour. Scientists think the brain develops early in life through a “use-it-or-lose-it:” principle causing the neural connections, or synapses, that get exercised to be retained and thickened, while those that don’t get used are lost.
This process in the frontal part of the brain peaks at about age 11 or 12 about the same time as puberty. After that peak, the neural pathways and connections start to get thinner as the excess connections are eliminated or pruned. This means that although teenagers are capable of learning a lot, the parts of their brains related to emotions and decision-making are still undergoing rewiring, and are particularly vulnerable to high risk and emotional behaviour. Puberty and the early adult years is a particularly critical time for the brain wiring. Basically it is probably unfair to expect teenagers to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making until their brains are completely finished being developed.
- Page 148 – “This makes so much sense and explains a lot of what we were considering yesterday, Clearly, these poor young people are being controlled by their emotions and can easily become depressed or have mental health problems, commit self harm or suicide.”
Discuss this comment and decide how you think it explains the large numbers of young people with depression, mental health problems, attempting self-harm and suicide.
- Page 149 – “I’ve got much more information yet, Nan that helps explain those problems. The next poster attempts explain how we explain what happens to us, they are called ‘Locus of Control’ and ‘Mindsets’. These both describe ways that we think and make decisions. Probably because of their poor development of the essential skills many teenagers seem to have external locus of control and fixed mindsets, which helps to explain their problems.”
Study the posters ‘Locus of Control’ and ‘Mindsets’ and discuss how you think they explain the motivation of young people.
Locus of Control
Locus of control refers to a person’s belief about what causes the good or bad results in his or her life, either in general or in a specific area such as health or academics.
· internal (meaning the person believes that they control their life) or
· external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life).
For example, college students with a strong internal locus of control may believe that their grades were achieved through their own abilities and efforts, whereas those with a strong external locus of control may believe that their grades are the result of good or bad luck, or to a professor who designs bad tests or grades capriciously; hence, they are less likely to expect that their own efforts will result in success and are therefore less likely to work hard for high grades.
Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.
Fixed Mindset – people believe that their talents and abilities are fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that; nothing can be done to change it. When people adopt the fixed mindset, it can limit their success. They become over-concerned with proving their talents and abilities, hiding deficiencies, and reacting defensively to mistakes or setbacks-because deficiencies and mistakes imply a (permanent) lack of talent or ability. People in this mindset will actually pass up important opportunities to learn and grow if there is a risk of unmasking weaknesses
Growth mindset – people believe that their talents and abilities can be developed through passion, education, and persistence. For them, it’s not about looking smart or grooming their image. It’s about a commitment to learning–taking informed risks and learning from the results, surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you to grow, looking frankly at your deficiencies and seeking to remedy them. Most great business leaders have had this mindset, because building and maintaining excellent organisations in the face of constant change requires it.
4) Page 150 – “What causes these young people to have external locus of control and fixed mindsets?” Asked Dad, who was clearly fascinated by this information?
“I think I can answer that.” Nan replied. “It is the same as ‘developing the skills we need to succeed’, that we discussed the other day. We used to develop it by doing the activities we used to do when I was young. We did lots of activities with our family and friends, where we were trying lots of new things, sometimes feeling success, sometimes failure and then talking and thinking about it afterwards. We used to grow up being given responsibility and believing we were responsible for our destiny, and told to ‘stop whingeing and get on with it’.”
Discuss this comment and decide if you think it explains why so many young people seem to have an external locus of control and fixed mindsets.
- Page 151- “I’ve found this news article which calls kids today ‘Cotton wool kids’ because they are not given responsibility and take so few risks, it gives a lot of support to ‘The Incapable Generation’ one we looked at the other day.
Discuss this poster and decide what you have learnt from it.
Raising Cotton Wool Kids
In 1971 eight out of ten children aged seven or eight years went to school on their own. By 1990 this figure had dropped to less than one in ten.
In 1971 the average seven-year-old made solo trips to their friends or the shops. By 1990 that freedom was with held until the age of ten.
Children today spend about four times as much time being looked after by their parents as children did in 1975.
With the introduction of extended school hours, children may spend more time at school, where in many cases they have less unstructured free time than in the past.
What has happened in the last 30 years or so?
The risk of abduction remains tiny. In Britain, there are now half as many children killed every year in road accidents as there were in 1922 – despite a more than 25-fold increase in traffic.
In 1970, 80% of primary school-age children made the journey from home to school on their own. It was what you did.
Today the figure is under 9%. Escorting children is now the norm – often in the back of a 4×4.
We are rearing our children in captivity – their habitat shrinking almost daily.
In 1970 the average nine-year-old girl would have been free to wander 840 metres from her front door. By 1997 it was 280 metres.
Now the limit appears to have come down to the front doorstep.
5) Page 152 – Gran then remarked.
“Although I think I understand why the teenage brain is likely to have problems and how the ‘Locus of control and Mindsets’ are developed, I still don’t understand why these teenagers do the stupid and unpleasant things that they do, like self harm, suicide, kill each other, take drugs, have eating disorders etc.”
“That’s a good point, Gran” replied Stacey. “I will try to explain that, by looking at myself as a typical teenager. Last week I thought I was very unusual and that bad things only seemed to happen to me, and I was wondering ‘what have I done to deserve this’ all the time. Now I know that I was just like most teenagers and bad things are happening to most of us, most of the time because of the stupid decisions we make. I now think I understand why I made those stupid decisions, which is probably what you want to know.”
“Yes please, very much so.” Dad said promptly.
“If you remember the diagram of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy’ which explains what motivates us, the key ones for me as a typical teenager are ‘Sense of belonging and self esteem’. What motivated me every day was ‘wanting to be accepted by my mates’ and if my mates, boys in particular, liked me I felt I was the business.”
“Everything I did was to impress or be accepted by them. The things they thought was important became what I thought was important, what they did, I did. I know now that my insecurity, low self esteem at age 11, meant I was desperate to find things that my mates would appreciate and with such poorly developed skills I was struggling to find things that could do this. So I played the fool, became a rebel, did extremely risky and anti-social activities to try to impress them.
As I became older, I focused more and more on trying to attract boys as a way of feeling I mattered. I spent a vast quantity of time, money and effort on my appearance in an effort to make myself attractive to them and going clubbing to meet them. “
“Virtually all my time and thoughts were focused on trying to impress the boys or making my friends jealous, I had no other particular interests at all. Very quickly, I realised that the possible offer of sex was a huge attraction to boys and as a young teenager I started to explore different ways to use sex to attract them. I dressed very sexily as much as possible, revealing as much flesh as I could, especially my boobs, which I exposed as much as possible and increasingly allowed the boys to fondle them and touch my flesh, this became a huge attraction to them.”
“Unfortunately, I had to continue to ‘up the stakes’, so I began fondling the boys and performing ‘hand jobs and oral sex’ on them. All these activities, understandably got lots of interest from lots of boys, and the girls became more and more jealous, at least I thought so, therefore I continued with it. In fact, I lost my virginity in my early teens, it seemed essential and natural at the time with so much pressure and expectation on me.”
“Having sex made me feel I had ‘grown up’ and that others were inexperienced and naïve, and were jealous of me. Consequently, I began to have sex regularly with a variety of boys, they became very attracted to me and I felt ‘popular’. Some girls and a few boys showed their envy by calling me names but I soon ‘sorted them out’ and becoming feared by other girls also made me feel important.”
“I was keen to try any activities that I felt others were frightened to do, because I felt my mates and particularly the boys would think how ‘gutsy’ or brave I was, so I ‘got slaughtered’ regularly, that’s often called binge drinking, smoking, trying various drugs, doing all sorts of anti-social and criminal behaviour, like nicking stuff in shops or ‘twocing cars’, that’s taking and driving cars.”
“By my mid-teens, I had created such a reputation that there were huge expectations on me from all sorts of people, particularly my mates and boys, so I couldn’t back down, otherwise I would ‘lose face’. Obviously I had become known as a ‘slut, slag or slapper’, but there was no turning back at this stage, the slippery slope I was on was much too difficult to climb up. Although I had desperately wanted to ‘feel I belonged and have good self esteem’, I had actually achieved the complete opposite. The boys only wanted me for sex, the girls hated me and my mates felt they couldn’t trust me, quite simply I was getting to the point that I had no ‘sense of belonging or self esteem’.”
“As I entered my late teens, I began to realise that the chances of me having good friends, getting a good job or most importantly having a good boyfriend was virtually none. I felt all the things that mattered had become impossible to achieve so I became increasingly depressed until I decided there were no good things left in my life and no point carrying on, so I decided to end it by drinking the vodka and taking the pills.”
Discuss your thoughts and opinions on the outline above provided by Stacey and how much it explains the behaviour and problems of many young people.
Chapter 20 – Saving Suzi
- Page 154 – “The first one emphasises the importance of prioritising learning. If anyone is to succeed they must ensure they focus on learning and the second one points out that we must all support Suzi in this learning. If children are to learn the skills they need to succeed, everyone needs to help in the process, not just leave it to parents or teachers.”
Discuss this comment and the posters below and decide how much you agree with them.
I’m too busy drowning to learn to swim! –
If we don’t take time to learn we can’t succeed
It takes a whole village to raise a child
2) Page 156 – Study the poster below and discuss how it could be used to help people understand the skills we need to succeed and improve our well being.
- Page 157 – “I can’t see anything there that we can’t do. What do you reckon, Sheila? Dad asked.
Consider this comment and discuss whether what is suggested in the poster below could occur in most families today.
Developing The Skills We Need To Succeed
The 5 Learning Requirements
Activities For Learning
Good Role Models- We must continually attempt to demonstrate and develop the skills ourselves and apologise when we don’t to emphasise the importance of them.
Reflection Time- Time must be planned and set aside to consider what has happened and ensure learning occurs. Diaries used to help with this, refection logs are used now.
Family Forums- These are invaluable, particularly communication, self-awareness, empathy and social skills. Before television they used to occur daily, this needs to occur.
Housework Jobs- These develop empathy, managing emotions and motivation, providing a sense of responsibility.
Family Games- Before television these would develop all the skills, complex board or card games are particularly effective.
Hobbies-These provide interests and develop skills.
SUPERlearning- Using this process to achieve exam success can develop effective learning, cognitive and motivation skills.
Again they all studied the poster and Nan commented first.
3) Page 158 – “Absolutely brilliant, and so very true.” Nan commented.
“And I agree entirely with that last line.” Said Gran.
“The focus in recent years to buy their kids everything, has done so much damage.”
Tick the bullet points that you think applied to you and discuss how much you agree with the comments above and at the end.
Growing Up Learning To Succeed
|· Look after our money and possessions, otherwise we didn’t get any.
· Understand that work is any activity that we didn’t want to do but had to and if we didn’t help around the house we didn’t get any money or possessions.
· Solve problems because we experienced loads and although people gave us clues they wouldn’t do it for us.
· Make good decisions because we made lots of bad ones and learnt from the consequences.
· Become confident, because our family wouldn’t let us give up.
· Have initiative and be creative because we had no satellite TV, DVDs, computers, video games or internet.
· Organise and plan our lives because we had no mobile phones to allow us to leave everything to last minute and keep changing our minds.
· Be healthy because most us didn’t have cars and had to walk everywhere.
· Be honest, as dishonesty was almost a hanging offence to my family.
· Respect ourselves and others because our family continually showed us they cared and considered our thoughts and feelings.
· Be responsible because we trusted to leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark, with no one able to reach us.
We had the motivation, environment and opportunities to learn, and had the chance to feel success when we did. It didn’t kill most of us and made us strong enough to survive and succeed, perhaps if our children have this chance they may not struggle so much as adults and be unable to cope.
How lucky we were to appear to have so much poverty but actually have so much that matters.
Chapter 21 – SUPERlearning To Succeed?
1) Page 161 – “We are going to start by showing you another poster that Suzi has made. As you can see the letters of ‘SUPER’, refers to the 5 key steps needed for effective learning. Basically it is a ‘Learning Journey’ and the key steps outline how to get to your destination effectively.” “When you start this journey, as with any, you need to be clear on where you aim to go, so basically it is essential to be clear on what you wish to learn. For us, we now know that the destination of the ‘Learning Journey’ for children is to learn the 8 skills we need to succeed, and so when children are born their needs to be a continual focus on learning them.”
|S||START WITH THE END IN MIND– you must START by knowing clearly what success actually means – being clear what you are actually aiming to achieve (your final destination).|
|U||UNDERSTAND HOW TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS –you must be sure you are clear on the difficulties preventing success and how you can overcome them.|
|P||PERSONALISE YOUR LEARNING – you need to know how you learn most effectively so you can apply it to overcome these difficulties.|
|E||EVALUATE YOUR LEARNING – you must keep checking that you are making progress and ‘feel success’, so you avoid wasting time and effort and don’t give up!|
|R||RESOURCES FOR YOUR EFFECTIVE LEARNING – you need to use the most suitable resources for you (including the right environment and tasks) that helps you overcome these difficulties effectively.|
l e a r n i n g
“That makes sense; I think we’ve all understood that now.” Dad commented.
“That’s why the next step is to ‘Understand how this learning occurs’. Over the last few days we’ve looked at the ‘5 Learning Requirements’, ‘The Learning Pyramid’, ‘How we learn skills’ and ‘How the brain learns’ to help with this understanding. Again using the journey comparison, this is being aware of all the various ways that you could travel to your destination.”
“We’ve certainly discovered a vast amount about how we learn this week; I wish I knew that years and years ago.” Nan commented.
Stacey continued her explanation.
“Personalising the learning is about making the most effective decisions for you, personally. We are all individuals and we must not allow others to determine how we should learn because it may not be the most effective for us. In the same way if we allow others to determine how we should travel, they need to know if we can ride a bike, drive, prepared to fly, know how to catch buses or trains etc. We must make these decisions. A simple glance at ‘The Learning Pyramid’ will show that for many years, most students have been expected to learn in very ineffective ways and understandably become ‘underachievers’ like me.”
“You will recall from ‘The Five Learning Requirements’ that we must have ‘attainable tasks and feel success’ to learn, and ‘Evaluating what we have learnt’ continually is essential. In fact, we must continually assess what we’re doing and learning. Can you imagine trying to learn to kick a football and not observing were it goes, of course not, and using the ‘journey of learning’ comparison, we need to know where we are on any journey otherwise we get lost. This means we must ensure we are able to reflect on what we’ve learnt to know where we are to go next, apparently the term in the internet for this is ‘Assessment for Learning’.”
Dad interrupted with this remark.
“Using the ‘Learning Journey’ comparison makes this obvious, and yet we usually seem to avoid assessing ourselves or having tests, yet if we were learning to drive we would always have to do this whenever we’re at the wheel. It’s so obvious when you really think about it!”
Stacey then continued.
“The final step is ‘Resources for effective learning’ should again be obvious, since we wouldn’t try to learn to drive in an unsuitable car with poor clutch, gears, brakes etc. and this applies to anything we wish to learn. If we try to learn using ineffective resources we are unlikely to succeed and yet this occurs frequently, especially in schools. Again using the ‘Learning Journey’ comparison, our journey will stop if we are not using an efficient vehicle, map, signposts etc.”
Discuss the information above and decide how useful you think SUPERlearning would’ve been to you in the past and if you will use it in the future.
2) Page 166 – “Excellent, this is so true. Most of my hobbies are activities that other people call work” Nan remarked.
Discuss this definition of the term “WORK”, consider examples of activities that some people call work but others enjoy and suggest ways that you can try to change activities that seem to be ‘work’ at the moment into an enjoyable activity.
WORK is doing something you don’t want to – but have to –
If you learn to enjoy what you have to do –
You’ll never have to work again!
3) Page 166 – “I’m nearly 20 years old, Gran, and throughout that time my parents have spent a fortune on me, given me huge quantity of their time and vast amounts of support, and all I’ve done is give them loads of grief and problems in return. At what stage do children start to spend vast quantities of their time, money and support for their parents? I think I should’ve started doing this many, years ago but instead I’m still dependent on them.” “That’s why I asked, Stacey. I went out to work in 1958 at the age of 14 and had to pay rent and board to my parents from what I earned, I didn’t complain, it made sense to me.”
Stacey again responded.
“It makes sense to me as well, Gran. I think it has been wrong for me not to have supported myself and helped my parents for all these years, that’s why I hope it will inspire and motivate me and Suzi in the future not to take our parents for granted and appreciate them as often as possible.”
Discuss this comment and the poster below and decide what you think is the answer to that question.
When should a child stop taking from their parents and start giving?
4) Page 167 – “This is why, Suzi and I have produced the next one, we feel taking all of you and our lives for granted is a major obstacle to success.”
Discuss this comment and the poster below and decide how much you agree with them.
For Success – It Helps To Expect Nothing &
- Page 167 – “But our favourite is this final one, because I’ve now realised that success will only occur when we learn and learning the skills we need to succeed is central to this”.
Discuss this comment and the poster below and decide how much you agree with them.
· Give a man a fish and
you feed him for a day.
· Teach him how to fish and
you feed him for a lifetime.
· Teach him how to learn to
overcome his difficulties and
you give him success for life