A Wonderful Life?-Helping Vulnerable Young People

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonderful-Life-Success-Feelosophy-ebook/dp/B00AHW1P1Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358343772&sr=1-1

   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

  1. What do you consider to be your greatest success so far – WHY?
  2. Some Olympic competitors do NOT feel successful, despite winning Silver or Bronze medals – WHY?
  3. Many big lottery winners do NOT feel successful – WHY?
  4. Would you feel you have succeeded if you ran the marathon (26+ miles) in a)2 hours,             b)4½hours,                 c)24 hours                     WHY?
  5. 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”

Arthur continued.

“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,”

Page 47

Stacey’s weekly expenses if she didn’t live at home

                   Rent                              £50

                    Council Tax                £10

                   Water Rates                £10

                   Electricity                    £7

                   Gas                               £8

                   Food                                       £35

                    Total                             £120

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

S START WITH THE END IN MIND – you must START by attempting past exam papers, marking them and then using the EXAM ANALYSIS to ensure you are ONLY focusing on YOUR key difficulties
U UNDERSTAND YOUR LEARNING –you must  be sure you are clear on YOUR difficulties and how YOU can overcome them.
P PERSONALISE YOUR LEARNING – you need to apply YOUR most effective styles and techniques for learning (eg videostudy etc)
E EVALUATE YOUR LEARNING – you must keep TESTING YOURSELF to keep checking that you are making progress, so you avoid wasting YOUR efforts and don’t give up!
R RESOURCES FOR YOUR EFFECTIVE LEARNING – you only use the resources that focus on YOUR exam papers and difficulties, using YOUR most effective styles and techniques for learning
 l  e  a  r  n  i  n  g

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

Love

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.

Like

I admire their qualities and skills.

I get on well with them.

Lust

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:

MOTIVATION Unless we are keen to learn, we will lack the determination to overcome the difficulties that will occur.
CONCENTRATION If we do not focus on the task, our brain cannot receive or store the information needed.
ENVIRONMENT Distractions can cause concentration to become too difficult to allow us to learn,
ATTAINABLE

TASKS

Unless the task to be learnt is broken down into small steps (‘bitesize chunks’) they are too difficult to grasp (‘too large to digest’).
FEELING SUCCESS If we do not feel we are making progress it becomes too difficult to keep motivated.

 

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.

Communication skills

            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

 Self-awareness

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.

Managing Feelings

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’

 Motivation

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)

Empathy

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.

Social skills

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

GRADES

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

 

(1)

Effective Learning Grade
Copes with challenges and change comfortably

Readily develops new skills

Learns effectively independently

1

(2)

Communication Grade
Concentrates intently despite distraction.

Verbal skills  (speaking, listening, reading, writing)

Non-verbal skills (visual gestures, body language, touch)

1

“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.”

 (3)

Cognitive Grade
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.

1

Suzi commented.

“I’ve never heard of ‘Cognitive skills’ before, what’s this one mean?”

Stacey answered.

“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.”

(4)

Self-awareness Grade
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.

0

Stacey continued.

“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.”

(4)

Managing Feelings Grade
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.”

(5)

Motivation Grade
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)

0

‘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.”

(6)

Empathy Grade
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

0

“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.”

(7)

Social Skills Grade
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

1

“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
ATTAINABLE

TASKS

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.

The Learning Pyramid

This diagram shows the average retention rate for different styles of learning. The styles at the top shows the least effective and on average how much is learnt

 Slide23

 

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:

MOTIVATION Unless we are keen to learn, we will lack the determination to overcome the difficulties that will occur.
CONCENTRATION If we do not focus on the task, our brain cannot receive or store the information needed.
ENVIRONMENT Distractions can cause concentration to become too difficult to allow us to learn,
ATTAINABLE

TASKS

Unless the task to be learnt is broken down into small steps (‘bitesize chunks’) they are too difficult to grasp (‘too large to digest’).
FEELING SUCCESS If we do not feel we are making progress it becomes too difficult to keep motivated.

 

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
GRADES

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 skillsConcentrates 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-awarenessKnows 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.

1 Colour T.V. 27 Internet
2 Portable T.V.s 28 Satellite T.V.
3 Video recorder 29 Remote controls
4 DVD player 30 Digital watches
5 Stereo player 31 Electronic calculator
6 Cassette recorder 32 House telephone
7 CD player 33 Mobile telephone
8 Automatic washing machine 34 Family car
9 Tumble dryer 35 Holidays abroad
10 Electric Toaster 36 Cash machines
11 Electric kettle 37 Credit cards
12 Electric blender 38 Large supermarkets
13 Refrigerator 39 Shopping malls
14 Freezer 40 Leisure/fitness centres
15 Microwave 41 Mcdonalds
16 Dishwasher 42 KFC
17 Electric iron 43 Pizza Hut
18 Electric vacuum cleaner 44 Designer (‘label’) clothes
19 Shower 45 Video shops
20 Electric hairdryer 46 Contact lenses
21 Central heating 47 Weekly Live football on TV
22 Double glazing 48 Father ‘out of work’
23 Duvets 49 Mother ‘in work’
24 Computer 50 Meals in front of the T.V.
25 Video games 51 Allowance (‘money for nothing’)
26 e-mail 52 ‘Lifts to school’
  • 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 had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.
When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just plimsolls and lolly sticks in our wheels.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags – riding in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.
We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.
After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.
We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all.
No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms.
We had friends, we went outside and found them.
We played cannon and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.
We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law suits.
We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.
We played knock-and-run and were actually afraid of the owners catching us
We walked to friend’s homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED or a BUS to school
We didn’t rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.
We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law unheard of. they actually sided with the law.

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

1)      Teamwork

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’

 “Freedom’s Orphans”

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

Maslows Hierarchy

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 Nolte
If 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.
          Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte

         

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.

Mindsets

 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.

Slide36

  • 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

MOTIVATION We are motivated to ‘belong and feel attached’, so we need people to regularly teach and MODEL THEM for us.
CONCENTRATION (REFLECTION) Opportunities and time to focus and reflect (think deeply) on our difficulties, experiences and feelings (REFLECTION TIME)
ENVIRONMENT Time and environments that allow us to observe, reflect and discuss our difficulties, experiences and feelings (FAMILY FORUM)
ATTAINABLE

TASKS

Tasks involving interaction with people to share difficulties, experiences and feelings  FAMILY FORUM, HOUSEWORK JOBS, FAMILY GAMES & CHALLENGES, HOBBIES, SUPERlearning for exam success.
FEELING SUCCESS Experience the elation in overcoming difficulties, and the importance of encouragement or emotionally healthy constructive criticism (FAMILY FORUM)

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
That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.         Friedrich Nietzsche

Those of us who were kids in the 50’s and 60’s probably think this was how we learn the skills needed to succeed. Although we may have had short term pain it helped us achieve long term gain. Daily news articles and reports illustrate young people today are struggling to achieve long term gain and can’t cope with setbacks and life in general. Perhaps that’s because unlike us we learnt to:

·       Accept that much of our food tasted horrible but was natural and didn’t make us fat.

·       Eat what we were given, because there was no choice.

·       Realise that certain foods were treats because they were rare and special

·       Copy our family by watching and listening to them instead of being bombarded by electronic shapes and noises.

·       Be excited by books when our parents read to us.

·       Tolerate pain by learning to crawl, stand, walk, climb, fall down and fight with our brothers and sisters a lot.

·       Concentrate by our family playing with us instead of leaving us to watch coloured lights on a screen.

·       Enjoy hugging and cuddling because it was how our family showed they cared, and not by being bought stuff.

·       Expect to get what we want would only cause our family to laugh, and getting what we needed was much more important.

·       Be both good winners and good losers otherwise we didn’t get to play games with our family.

·        Listen carefully and speak clearly otherwise our family ignored us.

 

·       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.

Stacey continued.

“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 &

Appreciate Everything

 

  • 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

 

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonderful-Life-Success-Feelosophy-ebook/dp/B00AHW1P1Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358343772&sr=1-1

 

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THE 7 HABITS & THE 8 SKILLS

My favourite book is, Stephen Covey’s, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, published in 1989, justifiably considered to be one of the most influential books ever written. I read it first in 1991, during my M.Ed., having been recommended to me by a very good friend. Since then I’ve given numerous colleagues copies as paperbacks and audio books, as well as providing over a hundred presentations & workshops using it as the central resource.

I realized immediately that it was an outstanding book with a very clear practical message, reinforcing my own research evidence that good development in the 8 skills are needed to become effective (healthy and successful).

In recent years the internet has been extremely helpful in providing greater access to Stephen Covey and The Seven Habits, these two links provides an excellent video presentation by Dr Stephen Covey and reading his audiobook.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWM72GPnzjY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRgLAzTyEfY

These bullet points from page 46 (The Seven Habits—An Overview) of the book provides some key points:-

  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
  • Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits.
  • Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
  • Habits can be learned and unlearned.
  • It isn’t a quick fix.

Covey writes

“For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.

Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why.

Skill is the how to do.

And desire is the motivation, the want to do.

In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.”

Throughout “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”,  Stephen Covey provides an excellent outline of the ‘knowledge and paradigm shifts’ essential to establish the seven habits and the inspiration to motivate us (desire) to try to achieve it. However, there is very little on:-

Skill is the how to do” and it is clear that in order for the 7 habits to become established the necessary skills need to be well-developed. The evidence from my own research can explain which skills are needed and how they can be developed. Too few people are able to ‘live the seven habits’ and I’m confident from my research that this is largely due to their lack of skill development.

Since 2003, I have been able to provide numerous presentations, workshops and courses using “The 7 Habits and the 8 Skills” as the central theme with the “Emotionally Healthy Effective Leadership & Teamwork” perhaps becoming the most popular.

LeadershipIsland-COVEY

I’ve included a few slides from these presentations to provide clear simple representations of each of the habits and how the 8 skills influence them.

7Habits-1-PROACTIVE.jpg

HABIT 1: BE PROACTIVE

The Habit of Personal Vision

  • Be Proactive means we are responsible for our own lives.
  • The word responsibility has two parts­ response—ability, we have the ability to choose our response.
  • Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour, a product of their own conscious choices, based on values, rather than their feelings.
  • Reactive peo­ple delegate blame and responsibility. “They made me do it”.

KEY SKILLS

  • Self-awareness is our skill (ability) to look at ourselves. If this is well-developed we are fully aware of our own thinking, feelings, values, motivation, habits, paradigms etc. This allows us to sense when we act or even consider acting ineffectively, a way that’s contrary to our principles.
  • Self-management is our skill (ability) to control our actions, reactions, behaviour etc. which if well-developed we can act effectively, free of all other influences, in line with our principles.

 7Habits-2-BEGINwithENDinMIND.jpg

HABIT 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

The Habit of Personal Leadership

  • Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each task with a clear understanding of your desired direction and destination.
  • “Leadership is about doing the right thing” and this habit means we are clear that we are aiming to ‘do the right thing’ before we start.
  • Too often people are achieving successes (superficial prizes, rewards, money, status etc.) that have come at the expense of things that are far more valuable to them. “They’re climbing up the ladder but it is not leaning against the right wall, every step takes them further in the wrong direction.”

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit requires good development of our skills of Cognition, so that we can envisage (creativity) the final outcome, understand and solve the difficulties preventing success.
  • It also needs our Self-awareness skill to be well-developed so that we are fully aware our ourselves at the start and throughout.

7Habits-3-PersonalManagement.jpg

HABIT 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST

The Habit of Personal Management

  • Put First Things First involves organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities established in Habit 2.
  • “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” –Goethe
  • Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what “first things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.
  • “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”
  • Time Management – Research evidence shows that most people spend far too much time responding to “the urgent” –relying on “crisis management” occasionally focusing on the “not urgent, unimportant”.
  • Highly effective people focus on the “Non-urgent important” (Quadrant II)
  • Investing more time on the planning, prevention, and rela­tionship-building activities of “Non-urgent important” (Quadrant II), means we spend far less time reacting to the urgent demands and crises.
  • Most of the activities essential to the develop­ment of the Seven Habits-creating a per­sonal mission statement, identifying long-range

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit requires good development of our skills of Cognition, so that we can ‘see the big picture’, understand, identify and address the difficulties preventing success, before they are likely to occur.
  • It also needs our Self-management skill to be very well-developed so that we are self-disciplined and exert self-control to ensure we remain focused on ‘What we NEED to do rather than what we WANT.”

7Habits-4-InterpersonalLeadership.jpg

HABIT 4: THINK WIN-WIN­

The Habit of Interpersonal Leadership

  • Think WIN / WIN means focusing on trying to get agreements or solutions with people that are mutually beneficial and mutually satisfying.
  • It requires a paradigm shift of COOPERATION is better than COMPETITION and SUCCESS for one does NOT mean LOSS/FAILURE for others.
  • It needs a character rich in integrity, maturity, and the Abundance Mentality to have a genuineness in human interaction.
  • This paradigm shift needs us to:
  1. See the problem from the other point of view.
  2. Identify the key issues & concerns involved.
  3. Determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution.
  4. Identify possible new options to achieve their results.

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit requires good development of our skills of Cognition, so that we identify the key factors and acceptable solutions.
  • Also needs well-developed Communication and Empathy skills to discover and understand other people’s thoughts and feelings.

7Habits-5-EmpathicCooperation.jpg

HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD

The Habit of Communication

  • Communication is a key skill in life, we spend years learning how to speak, read and write, but what about listening?
  • An effective communicator will first seek to understand another person’s views before seeking to be understood. People want a proper diag­nosis before being open to prescriptions -‘Diagnose Before You Prescribe’.
  • Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filter­ing everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobi­ography into other people’s lives, listening within their own frame of reference.
  • Empathic Listening is needed to fully, deeply understand the other person emotionally, intellectually and get deep understanding of the problem first.
  • Empathic Listening is difficult, you become vulnerable, it needs a lot of security to go into a deep listening experience because in order to have influence, you have to first be influenced. You have to really understand.

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit clearly needs very well-developed Communication and Empathy skills to discover and fully, deeply understand other people’s thoughts and feelings.
  • It also requires good development of our skills of Cognition, so that we analyse the key factors and propose effective solutions.

7Habits-6-SYNERGY.jpg

HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE

The Habit of Creative Cooperation

  • Synergy is where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and is at the heart of an effective team.
  • Two or more people, creatively cooperating, will be able to produce far better results than either one could alone.
  • “When you communicate synergistically, you are simply opening your mind and heart and expressions to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.”
  • Synergy is the outcome all the previous habits, it is emotionally healthy effective teamwork, developing unity and creativity with others.
  • Synergy requires realizing that people see the world differently and the different perspectives can provide more effective outcomes.
  • Insecure ineffective people tend to surround themselves with people who think similarly, avoiding the potential from creative conflict.

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit requires very good development of ALL 8 SKILLS
  • Learning and embracing change is clearly central but it should be obvious that without very good development in all 8 skills being an emotionally healthy effective leader is not possible.7Habits-7-SHARPENtheSAW

HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW

The Habit of Self-Renewal

  • Sharpen the Saw means ensuring we remain physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally healthy.
  • This habit is essential as the other habits depend on it.
  • “A minimum of one hour a day in renewal of the physi­cal, spiritual, and mental dimensions is the key to the development of the Seven Habits, and it’s completely within our control.”

KEY SKILLS

  • This habit involves repeatedly (daily) practising and developing each of the 8 skills underpinning the habits
  1. Effective Learning – Learn and cope with new things

  2. Communication – Concentrate and communicate

  3. Cognition – Understand and solve problems

  4. Self-awareness – Know ourself and what to improve              

  5. Self-management – Manage our feelings and behaviour           

  6. Motivation – Cope with difficulties and setbacks                        

  7. Empathy – Show respect and empathise with others               

  8. Relationship/Social – Relate and cooperate with others  

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.

“What are you doing?” you ask.

“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”

“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

It is almost 30 years since this magnificent book was published and despite selling over 25 million copies, I have been very disappointed that it has not had a greater effect especially on societies throughout the world. It is obvious to me that the 7 Habits and the 8 Skills underpinning them could cause a huge paradigm shift and transform the priorities in society to radically change and improve education, health, social care, media and government. Sadly, only the business world still seems to appreciate the importance of the 7 Habits, perhaps explaining how developing and measuring the 8 Skills that underpin them will rectify this.

CHARACTER-what it actually means

“Character is a skill, not a trait. At any age, character skills are stable across different tasks, but skills can change over the life cycle. Character is shaped by families, schools, and social environments.”
Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success” (2014)
‘Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.’                                                                Albert Einstein

‘Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.’                   Bruce Lee

CHARACTER_KIPP_REPORT

Even before I began teaching in the early seventies I had heard the term ‘character’ used, usually referring, explaining or justifying why someone behaved in a certain way. However, as a teacher experimenting and researching with pupil’s behaviour, I tried to understand it more thoroughly.
The English word “character” is derived from the Greek ‘charaktêr’, which was originally used of a mark impressed upon a coin. Later and more generally, “character” came to mean a distinctive mark by which one thing was distinguished from others, and then primarily to mean the assemblage of skills that determines the way they think, feel and behave, distinguishing one individual from another.
As I carried out my experimenting and research I was delighted to discover that basically Aristotle’s view was similar to mine in that virtually everyone is capable of becoming better, i.e. developing these skills. Furthermore, the subtitle to one of my favourite books, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey is ‘Restoring the Character Ethic’ and in essence focuses upon developing the skills to improve character and become a more effective person.

Character Strengths and Virtues                                                                             The 2004 publication Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson & Martin E. P. Seligman provides some excellent support for my research into discovering the answer to ‘What do we really need to learn to achieve a successful, healthy, happy life?’ It provides the following 24 character strengths and virtues, which I would call ‘skills’ as they can be learnt or developed and clearly overlap a great deal with the 8 skills.
Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
1. Creativity
2. Curiosity
3. Open-mindedness
4. Love of learning:
5. Perspective [wisdom]:
Strengths of Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal
6. Bravery [valor]:
7. Persistence
8. Integrity [honesty]:
9. Vitality [zest, enthusiasm]
Strengths of Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
10. Love
11. Kindness
12. Social intelligence
Strengths of Justice: civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
13. Citizenship [social responsibility, teamwork]:
14. Fairness.
15. Leadership
Strengths of Temperance: strengths that protect against excess
16. Forgiveness and mercy
17. Humility / Modesty
18. Prudence
19. Self-regulation [self-control]
Strengths of Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning
20. Appreciation of beauty and excellence.
21. Gratitude
22. Hope [optimism]:
23. Humour
24. Spirituality [ purpose]
Since the start of this century there seem to have been a plethora of researchers who have published books or articles supporting the importance of developing the 8 skills, using a wide variety of terms.
The following extract from the introduction to ‘Promise and Paradox: Measuring Students’ Non-cognitive Skills and the Impact of Schooling’ (2014) attempts explain why “Non-cognitive skills” has become a popular term.
“Non-cognitive, therefore, has become a catchall term for traits or skills not captured by assessments of cognitive ability and knowledge. Many educators prefer the umbrella terms “social and emotional learning” (Durlak et al. 2011) or “21st Century skills” (National Research Council, 2012), while some psychologists and economists embrace the moral connotations of “virtue” and “character” (Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Heckman & Kautz, 2013).”

James J. Heckman
A very important supporter of the 8 skills and my research, though he does not know it, since the start of this century, is James J. Heckman, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics (2000) and an expert in the economics of human development. His research with various economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists has shown clearly that development of skills in early childhood heavily influences health, economic and social outcomes for individuals and society at large.
“An important lesson to draw from the entire literature on successful early interventions is that it is the social skills and motivation of the child that are more easily altered—not IQ. These social and emotional skills affect performance in school and in the workplace. We too often have a bias toward believing that only cognitive skills are of fundamental importance to success in life.”
James J. Heckman, PhD Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences 2000
In his 2001 article The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program with Yoma Rubinstein, they state.
“Much of the neglect of noncognitive skills in analyses of earnings, schooling, and other lifetime outcomes is due to the lack of any reliable measure of them.”

It is such a relief and so refreshing to see a Nobel prizewinner and eminent researcher reflect my own research and reach use almost the same words as I. Throughout the years since then he has continued to provide excellent research evidence emphasising the need for societies to focus on developing and measuring these noncognitive skills. The following extract is part of the summary from Schools, Skills, and Synapses James J. Heckman May 2008

• America has a growing skills problem.
• One consequence of this skills problem is rising inequality and polarization of society. A greater fraction of young Americans is graduating from college. At the same time, a greater fraction is dropping out of high school.
• Another consequence of the skills problem is the slowdown in growth of the productivity of the workplace.
• Current social policy directed toward children focuses on improving cognition. Yet more than smarts is required for success in life.
• Gaps in both cognitive and noncognitive skills between the advantaged and the disadvantaged emerge early and can be traced in part to adverse early environments. A greater percentage of U.S. children is being born into adverse environments.
• Recent research shows how cognitive and personality skills are affected by parental investments and life experiences

With James Heckman being such an important researcher he has had an increasing range of associates. In 2014 with several other researchers he produced the working paper “Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success” (2014) Tim Kautz, James J. Heckman, Ron Diris, Bas ter Weel, Lex Borghans that reviews the recent literature on measuring and boosting cognitive and noncognitive skills.
• The literature establishes that achievement tests do not adequately capture character skills, personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains.
• Their predictive power rivals that of cognitive skills.
• Reliable measures of character have been developed.
• All measures of character and cognition are measures of performance on some task.
• In order to reliably estimate skills from tasks, it is necessary to standardize for incentives, effort, and other skills when measuring any particular skill.
• Character is a skill, not a trait. At any age, character skills are stable across different tasks, but skills can change over the life cycle.
• Character is shaped by families, schools, and social environments.
• Skill development is a dynamic process, in which the early years lay the foundation for successful investment in later years.
• High-quality early childhood and elementary school programs improve character skills in a lasting and cost-effective way.
• Many of them beneficially affect later-life outcomes without improving cognition.

The influence of these important researchers probably helped to influence the increased establishment of the use of the term Character Skills as reflected in this extract from the UK newspaper, The Guardian 20th May 2011
“Why character skills are crucial in early years education”
James Heckman’s research into the benefits of concentrating on character over cognitive skills can help tackle inequality.
The character skills that are crucial are summed up in Heckman’s acronym “Ocean”: openness (curiosity, willing to learn); consciousness (staying on task); extroversion (outgoing, friendly); agreeableness (helpful); neuroticism (attention to detail, persistence). These are the skills that enable children to learn; without them even the best teachers can do little. These are the skills that are predictive of outcomes such as educational achievement, obesity, offender rates, employment and smoking. The single biggest predictor of longevity and school achievement is conscientiousness – which is effectively a form of self-control.

In 2012, Paul Tough’s excellent book “How Children Succeed; Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” was published and became a bestseller, helping to publicise James Heckman’s research and Character Skills a great deal. The following review gives an outline of it.

In this book the author reverses three decades of thinking about what creates successful children, solving the mysteries of why some succeed and others fail, and of how to move individual children toward their full potential for success.
The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in this book the author argues that the qualities that matter most have more to do with character: skills like perserverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do, and do not, prepare their children for adulthood.
And he provides us with new insights into how to help children growing up in poverty. Early adversity, scientists have come to understand, can not only affect the conditions of children’s lives, it can alter the physical development of their brains as well. But now educators and doctors around the country are using that knowledge to develop innovative interventions that allow children to overcome the constraints of poverty. And with the help of these new strategies, children who grow up in the most painful circumstances can go on to achieve amazing things.
This book has the potential to change how we raise our children, how we run our schools, how we construct our social safety net, and also how to change our understanding of childhood itself.

The last sentence in this review could easily be a summary of my own objectives or mission, except that the 8 skills will also include the skills of effective learning, cognition and communication.
There does not yet appear to be a consensus to the character skills, the following being common examples:
Openness (curiosity, willing to learn); Consciousness (staying on task); Extroversion (outgoing, friendly); Agreeableness (helpful); Neuroticism (attention to detail, persistence); Perseverance; Curiosity; Optimism; Self Control.
The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) nationwide network of schools found throughout the United States are extensively referred to in Paul Tough’s book that has a Character Report Card. The character skills are described as Zest; Grit; Self-control; Optimism; Gratitude; Social Intelligence; Curiosity.

Now I understand…‘Why there is such concern about the shortage of 21st Century Skills.

21st Century_SkillsBy the start of the eighties I had taught Chemistry to University Entrance (Advanced) Level for several years and experienced the criticism each year from the Confederation of British Industries, via the media, of how poorly prepared the students were for Employment and Life. Frequently this criticism was given the most publicity by the media when the exam results arrived in August. The section on the evolution of the 8 skills illustrates that my research concluded that the skills needed to succeed in employment and life were not being developed in many of our children in society or schools as far back as the seventies and needed to become prioritised.
In the 30 plus years since then this message has grown almost exponentially such that in 2009 an initiative was launched at the Learning and Technology World Forum in London that set up The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S) project, created by Cisco, Intel and Microsoft, who wanted to sponsor a project to research and develop new approaches, methods and technologies for measuring the success of 21st -century teaching and learning in classrooms around the world.
The focus of the project was set on defining 21st century skills and developing ways to measure them with the objective of “What is learned, how it is taught and how schools are organized must be transformed to respond to the social and economic needs of students and society as we face the challenges of the 21st century.”
It is important to note that this 21st Century Skills project was largely being motivated by the shortage of skills for employment, or ’economic needs of students and society’, which had been part of my own research several decades earlier. In the nineties my research uncovered the following list which I have used repeatedly since then to emphasise this concern. Before displaying the slide I would always ask the audience –
“Which skills do you think are most desired in employees by the top 500 companies in the world?” Usually the responses focused on Reading, Writing, and Numeracy, then I would observe their reaction, surprise, at this list.
In 1990 the Creative Education Foundation listed the following skills desired by Fortune 500 companies in order of importance:
1. Teamwork
2. Leadership
3. Problem Solving
4. Goal setting/Motivation
5. Interpersonal Skills
6. Writing
7. Oral Communication
8. Organizational Effectiveness
9. Listening
10. Computation
11. Personal/Career Development
12. Reading

Later on I discovered a similar list, that seems to show that the views displayed by my audiences actually reflected the job-skills priorities in 1970.
Creativity in Action (1990) produced this table to show the job-skills needed by the the Fortune 500 companies.
Critical Job-Skills 1990                                              1970
1. Team work 1                                                                    10
2. Problem Solving 2                                                         12
3. Interpersonal Skills 3                                                   13
4. Oral Communication 4                                                4
5. Listening 5                                                                        5
6. Personal Career Development 6                               6
7. Creative Thinking 7                                                      7
8. Leadership 8                                                                   8
9. Goal Setting/Motivation 9                                          9
10. Writing 10                                                                       1
11. Organizational Effectiveness 11                               11
12. Computation 12                                                             2
13. Reading 13                                                                        3

I can fully appreciate why so many people and the media still seem to believe that list from 1970 is still applicable in the 21st century, since there seems to be so little media coverage or explanation of skills needed and how they are learnt, so the traditional beliefs continue.
At the start of the new century, in England, the Government created the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which regularly produced The National Employers Skills Survey (NESS) that collected and analysed data on the issues employers face in terms of recruitment, skill gaps and training. These surveys repeatedly produced tables similar to these.
When ‘The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S) project’ produced their list of 10 skills it was very similar.

ATC21S categories of 21st Century skills
1. Creativity & innovation
2. Critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making
3. Learning to learn, metacognition
4. Communication
5. Collaboration (teamwork)
6. Information literacy
7. ICT literacy
8. Citizenship – local & global
9. Life & career
10. Personal & social responsibility
(Dr Irenka Suto Principal Research Officer, Research Division,Cambridge Assessment 28th February 2013)

When this project was initiated I had spent many years focusing on the 8 skills, and it is easy to see how these ten 21st Century skills would integrate into the 8 skills. It was also helpful to have support for the increasing widespread use of the term “skills”, this is a quote from an article in the Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy.
The term “skills” was used in the first initiatives of the project. However, many argued for the term “competencies” instead, since that term includes broader understandings in many languages of what is needed in the future. Still, it was decided to keep “skills” as a term, but clearly state that “skills” in this sense incorporates broader cultural “competencies”.

Studying these lists of skills over decades has been very instrumental in deciding to select the 8 skills, and as you read this book you will discover that the names have been continually changed and may change in the future. The ten ATC21S categories of 21st Century skills have been attached to the 8 skills.

1. Learn effectively to cope & enjoy the continual change in modern life.
1. Creativity & innovation,
3. Learning to learn, metacognition
2. Cognition– to understand & solve complex everyday problems to make good decisions –
2. Critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making
3. Communication– to concentrate, listen, speak, read, write & detect non-verbal information effectively
4. Communication
6. Information literacy
7. ICT literacy
4. Self-awareness to assess ourselves accurately & what to improve to become healthy & happy
5. Self-management to manage our feelings, control our behaviour & avoid ‘quick fixes’
10. Personal & social responsibility
6. Motivation to become resilient by learning from difficulties & setbacks
7. Empathy to understand & appreciate other people’s views & emotions -respect
8. Relate to cooperate well with others to lead & be part of a team.
8. Citizenship – local & global
9. Life & career

Conclusion
The evolution of the 21st Century skills or perhaps more aptly has been a huge asset in the evolution of the 8 skills since becoming an effective employee, employer, manager, leader, entrepreneur etc. in the 21st Century is likely to be a big factor in our health, well-being and success (difficulties overcome). Furthermore, the research into defining 21st century skills and developing ways to measure them could prove invaluable in the future as could its influence in “What is learned, how it is taught and how schools are organized must be transformed to respond to the social and economic needs of students and society as we face the challenges of the 21st century.”
However, this focus is quite narrow as it does not seem to consider:-
1. The majority of learning does not occur in organised education (schools, colleges etc.) and developing our skills will occur over thousands of hours of practice in numerous varied situations.
2. Skills are being assessed continually by everyone regularly when observing people in action (doing things) so measurements of skills need to be done frequently, in a wide variety of situations.
3. The widespread concerns about health and well-being such as
• Stress; depression
• Poor mental health
• Low self esteem
• Self-harm and suicide
• Substance misuse and binge drinking
• Anti-social and criminal behaviour
• Financial problems and gambling
• Relationship problems; sex related difficulties
• Chaotic Lifestyles

Now I understand…‘What we really need to learn to achieve a healthy, happy, successful life?’

The 12th June 1983 and 18th November 1985 are the two most important dates in my life, when my two children, daughters, were born. I was in my thirties and spent about 10 years anticipating and preparing for parenthood. I’ve never used the phrase “I just want what’s best for my children” since I think it states the obvious, but when I began teaching in the early seventies I did begin researching the answer to this question:
‘What do we really need to learn to achieve a healthy, happy, successful life?’

The extensive research evidence, to be able to confidently answer this question was not available to me until the nineties, and to my great relief, both my daughters appear to have achieved this so far. In the last two decades I’ve provided hundreds of presentations to parents resulting in this comment on numerous occasions: ‘Why didn’t we know about this before?”, possibly you will also.

I began my research and quest to answer this question when I returned to my secondary school as a young P.E. teacher in September 1974. I was born in the blitzed East End of London, just after the Second World War to a very non-academic working class family, yet I was a 22 year old, with a degree in Chemistry, with a passion for sport, but clueless as to how or why I had attained this position and expected to help these teenagers develop and prepare for adult life, according to my self-awareness at the time.
From a very young age I had repeatedly asked questions and tried to understand as much as I could, so trying to discover the answer to this question has probably underpinned much of my life. Therefore, I’m relieved that following decades of extensive worldwide scientific research we can finally be confident that we can answer this question and the articles in this blog will repeatedly demonstrate it.

The 8 Skills
For many years I have used terms similar to skills such as abilities, capabilities, qualities, competencies, and I can understand why others may be more comfortable with them but as a huge fan of sport I have comfortably used the term skill since early childhood to describe various physical abilities or actions.
‘Skill – any action or activity that can be learnt’
As a teacher I became aware that skills could be used to describe any action or activity that could be learnt, with language skills, mathematical skills, scientific skills and many others being continually used. In fact, the term skills is now applied in a huge range of areas such as Employability, Management, Leadership, Parenting, Coaching, Teaching etc.as it aptly describes the actions or activities needed to perform these tasks or roles.

The great philosophers for many centuries have been reflecting and offering advice on overcoming the difficulties we are likely to meet to achieve healthy, happy, successful lives and throughout the 20th century this increasingly became a focus for scientists. In recent years there have been huge advances in the science of learning (what, why and how we learn) especially in developmental psychology (the scientific study of changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span) and neuroscience (particularly brain imaging). All this extensive research and longitudinal, sociological studies means that we are finally able to be confident that in order to achieve healthy, happy, successful lives in the 21st century we need to have good development in key skills (or skill sets). These 8 skills will appear in numerous lists under a variety of names, but presently I have used what seem to me to be the most suitable names at present (I have changed the names several times).

1. Effective Learning
In July 2013, the BBC science series Horizon broadcast a programme entitled “What Makes Us Human?” in which ‘Professor Alice Roberts set out to explore what it is about our bodies, our genes and ultimately our brains that set us apart from our furry cousins – what is it that truly makes us human?’ The conclusion at the end is simply summarised as ‘our ability to learn to overcome the difficulties of life’.
The scientific research and discoveries in the last few centuries have been staggering, resulting in life in the 21st century being complicated for everyone in the modern technological world. The complexity of everyday life in the modern world means that it has become essential for everyone to learn to adapt to the continual changes and new situations they are certain to meet.
Skill is the any action or activity that can be learnt and so the development of a skill can be assessed and measured by close observation of these actions or activities. When I began teaching and coaching sport (P.E.) in the early seventies, I needed to learn to observe the students very carefully to try to identify and analyse their skill. I realised quickly that I needed to improve my own communication and cognitive skills in order to do this effectively. In each sport there are sets of skills that had key actions that had to occur to become effective or master it, so I had to develop my own skill in detecting these actions, fortunately I had lots of opportunities to practise and improve this skill..
The sections ‘Common Examples of Characteristics’ attempts to provide a examples and explanations on assessing and measuring each of the 8 skills. Most people will be able to become more effective in measuring the 8 skills with practice, but we already carry out these assessments (probably poorly) by observing the key actions, characteristics or behaviours that are described. It is important to appreciate that this is ‘continual assessment and measurement’ so frequent opportunities to display the skills in varied situations is crucial to accurate measurement.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Effective Learning
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They will feel and show that they are becoming more comfortable with changes to their life, no longer become upset by it and adapt easily.
• They will be keen to learn new things and do so without the need to have someone motivating or teaching them.
• They can and enjoy learning in a wide variety of ways (eg. books, computers, video, people) and environments (eg. alone, groups, school), being able to practice and study for many hours.

Effective learning appears to be the only one of the 8 skills that babies are born with some measurable level of development, which is probably explained with the reference to the “What Makes Us Human?” TV programme. Babies have to undergo massive changes to their environment when being born and most adapt to the changes to their life, becoming less upset by it – hopefully! Babies and toddlers show a keenness to learn new things and usually need little motivation. In fact, over the many decades I’ve been observing babies and toddlers closely I’ve referred to them as ‘Learning Machines’ for what I hope are obvious reasons.

2. Communication
Any scientific analysis or comparison with other species identifies human’s communication skills as being significant. However human babies are not born with good communication skills, in fact their concentration and attention span are poor, but unless they develop them, our babies cannot receive the variety of information around them through their senses (see, hear and feel) to detect potential problems or danger. Therefore learning to concentrate effectively means they can learn to detect and understand sounds, visual gestures, facial expressions, body language, touch, and develop their ability to listen, speak, read and write. In the 21st century modern world, communication with a very wide variety of people, in large range of ways, is commonplace for all, so developing these skills to a high level is essential.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Communication
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They will be able to keep focused on what they are doing for a long time (many hours) and avoid being distracted even though they may not be enjoying the activity.
• They will be able to understand and communicate using a wide variety of ways and information, such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, computers, but also non-verbally such as facial expressions, visual gestures, body language, touch and tone of voice.

Clearly when babies are born their communication skills are very limited, but recent scientific evidence indicates that they may be able to detect sounds in the womb. However, when people (eg. babies) have poor development in this skill they can get very frustrated and their behaviour may be considered to be loud, naughty, anti-social, aggressive, violent or possibly they become very withdrawn, ‘quiet or sulky’.

3. Cognition
Since the start of the 20th century the term intelligence has largely referred to cognitive skills. The highly developed prefrontal cortex (frontal lobe) of the human brain has been identified as having a large influence on cognitive skills (understanding, planning, problem solving and decision making) which for over a century has been considered to explain ‘human intelligence’. Academic and exam achievement is largely related to this skill, especially in mathematics and science.
In the 21st century modern world, most people are expected to make many important complex decisions throughout their lives, as part of normal everyday life, so good development in this skill has become essential to all if they are to achieve success and good well-being.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Cognition
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They will be traditionally described as ‘bright, quick-witted, clever, and intelligent’.
• They can think analytically so that they understand concepts and information that may be difficult for others (eg, science and maths) and also apply it to solve problems and see long term consequences to make good decisions.
• They can work out the ‘pros and cons’ accurately and see the ‘big picture’.

Scientific evidence indicates that when babies are born they have little development of this skill and initially show little evidence that they can solve problems. People who are poorly developed in this skill have been unfairly referred to as ‘slow, thick, retarded etc.’ yet often they have not had the opportunities to practice and develop this skill, especially in their early years, when their brain is most able to adapt and learn.

4. Self-awareness
This skill (action that can be learnt) is, basically our perception or understanding about who we are and how we relate to the world, consequently poor development in this skill is likely to be central to the huge rise in depression, bullying, self-harm and poor mental health in the 21st century. Humans are thought to be one of the few species that can develop their self-awareness sufficiently to learn to recognise themselves in a mirror, usually by the age of two years. We will learn to assess ourselves by feedback from people and our environment, becoming aware of our emotions and evaluating our strengths and weaknesses. The huge influence of the media and communication in the 21st century has meant the criteria on which people assess themselves has changed immensely, resulting in many having poor or fragile self-esteem.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Self -Awareness
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They can assess themselves very accurately using their development of the 8 skills as key criteria.
• They will know their strengths and weaknesses, and what they need to improve.
• They will regularly study (reflect on) their behaviour and emotions and why they occur, and avoid putting too much emphasis on the superficial (appearance).
• They will be confident with good, sound self-esteem.

In recent decades the advancement in scientific evidence indicates that when babies are born they have little development of self-awareness but within two to three years have surpassed virtually all other species in the development of this skill.
People who are poorly developed in this skill are likely to behave in a way that shows they lack an understanding of themselves, what they do and why they do it. Their actions may show that they lack confidence, have low self-worth or self-esteem by either being withdrawn or following other people, trends, fashions, behaviours.

5. Self-management
When babies are born they are unable to manage their emotions or control their impulses and parents are very familiar with toddlers ‘losing their temper’ when they cannot get what they want. Key to humans being able to overcome difficulties relies very much on ‘staying in control’, ‘doing what is needed and not what is wanted’. For several decades, scientists have been assessing this skill and detecting its importance in success in areas as widespread as academia, sport, business and leadership. Identification of poor development in this skill, largely occurring in the pre-fontal cortex, can often explain addictive personalities, anti-social and criminal behaviour.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Self-management
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They will not be impulsive or ‘lose control’ and use their emotions in a controlled effective positive way.
• They will express their emotions to others in ways that are clear and appropriate to the situation (suitable behaviour).
• They know how to behave and adapt their behaviour according to where they are and who they are with.
• They have strategies to manage their impulses and strong emotions (eg. anger, anxiety, stress, jealousy) to avoid them behaving in ways that has negative consequences for them or for other people.
• They do what they NEED to do and not what they WANT (‘avoid temptation’), avoid taking ‘quick fix solutions’ to problems.

Again the scientific evidence indicates that when babies are born they have little development of this skill and their behaviour is impulsive and reactive. Poor development in self-management is frequently described as ‘being childish or babylike’ and provides the explanation for numerous problems with adults and adolescents. In fact, poor development in the skill has traditionally been called ‘bad behaviour’, even though often poor self-awareness may be the major factor.

6. Motivation
This skill has seen a huge amount of research in recent decades, with the conclusion that poor development in this skill invariably results in people struggling to achieve success or good well-being. Humans will experience difficulties from the moment they are born and in the womb; these setbacks help them to learn to become resilient. If children are protected excessively and prevented from experiencing these difficulties, they grow up unprepared to try to overcome difficulties they will meet in the future, which means they will fear failure and avoid challenges or new situations. It is important to note that what motivates us, which will depend greatly on our self-awareness, is very different from what keeps us motivated, as this will require developing resilience, persistence, determination, will power, responsibility etc.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Motivation
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They are resilient and bounce back from disappointment or failure
• They do not ‘fear failure’ and view errors as part of the normal learning process, studying any experience or outcome to see what can be learnt from it.
• They use their and other’s experiences, including mistakes and setbacks, to change (improve) their thinking and behaviour (growth mindset and internal locus of control).
• They take responsibility for their lives, not blaming others, believe that they can influence what happens to them and make wise choices.

When babies are born they do appear to have some resilience, often being termed as ‘fighters’ when they experience difficulties or setbacks. Babies and toddlers do not appear to fear failure and learn by experience (‘trial and error’). However, people who are poorly developed in this skill become reluctant to try new things, look for excuses and blame, lack optimism and become despondent easily.

7. Empathy
Humans have become successful (overcome the difficulties in their lives) by being ‘social animals’, their success as a species is because they work as together as a group or team, and much of their motivation and pleasure involves relationships with others. Consequently, it is important for us to become emotionally sensitive to other people and appreciate or ‘tune into’ their thoughts and feelings, and essential in forming good strong relationships. Poor development in this skill means they are likely to experience many difficulties with other people, falsely believe ‘everyone thinks and feels the same as they do’, or feel alienated and alone and likely to have frequent huge relationship problems.
In recent years, this inter-personal skill has increasingly become better understood, it’s importance and how it is developed. With travel, migration and integration becoming commonplace in the 21st century, this skill continues to become ever more important, sometimes being referred to as ‘diversity’.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Empathy
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They are able to see the world from other people’s emotions, beliefs and points of view, understanding how people are feeling through their words, body language, gestures, and tone.
• They refer to people’s feelings a great deal and try to explain behaviour in terms of their emotions and skills, being used as a counsellor or be confided in by others.
• They are able to show respect (care and consideration) for people from all cultures, backgrounds, interests, attainments, attitudes, and values.

When babies are born they do not appear to have any empathy and learning it is very dependent on the quality and quantity of interaction they have with other people (attachment). People poorly developed in this skill struggle to form good quality relationships, will try to stick to ‘like-minded people’ and tend to disrespect others. In recent years they are often diagnosed as being autistic or having Asperger’s syndrome.

8. Relationship/Social
With relationships and teamwork being so important to humans, unless we learn to handle a wide variety of relationships and deal effectively with them they are likely to feel lonely, rejected, frustrated, angry and unhappy. The quality of their lives is invariably greatly affected by how well we ‘get on with’ other people and social or relationship skills are essential to our popularity, effectiveness with others and whether we will be able to lead or ‘blindly’ follow others.

Common Examples of Characteristics for Relationship/Social Skills
When people have developed well in this skill:
• They work and learn well in groups and teams, taking on different roles, cooperating with others to achieve a joint outcome.
• They get on’ with lots of very varied people and will not ‘bitch or slag off’ others.
• They display an appropriate level of independence from others, while maintaining positive relationships with others.
• They put the team before themselves and make very good employees despite poor leadership.
• They try to support others, are comfortable with support but seen as a leader by many people.

Again, newborn babies do not appear to have any relationship/social skills and as with empathy, development is very dependent on the quality and quantity of interaction they have with other people. Poor development in this skill will result in people struggling to become team players, continually ‘falling out with others’, being selfish, and following others (like sheep).

Now I understand…

1952 I was born in East London.
1970 I went to university (Lancaster-Chemistry degree)
1973 I began teaching (P.E. & Maths-Carnegie College, Leeds)
1974 I began researching the Science of Learning (& teaching)
1983 I became a parent (2 girls)
1985 & 1990 I did part-time courses for Dip.Ed. & M.Ed. (Anglia)
1996 I became a step-parent (2 boys, 2 girls)
2003 I became a Learning Consultant (National Strategy-Behaviour) when I began providing hundreds of presentations and training sessions to parents, teachers, leaders, health, social, youth workers and others.
I’ve had the following comment on numerous occasions, “why didn’t we know this before?”
In 2015 I decided to begin this blog to attempt to share some of the learning, understanding and extensive research I’ve discovered, so that others can also say- Now I understand…