My Approach

Across all my work, I believe that learning should be motivating, positive, holistic and long term. For more detail on the ideas and philosophy underpinning Effective Learners, scroll down.

 

Motivating    

I introduce people to new ways of thinking about learning and help to engage their intrinsic motivation rather than relying too heavily on external rewards and affirmation.

Positive        

I identify and build on existing strengths and encourage a playful, optimistic approach to learning and an enjoyment of challenge. It is important to remove the fear of failure and to encourage an understanding that failure is an essential part of learning.

Holistic        

I take account of the broader factors that have an impact on learning, such as school, family and social relationships and lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and leisure activities.

Long-term    

I help to strengthen the generic skills of learning, rather than coaching for specific exam targets.

 

21st Century Learning:

 

New views of intelligence 

Recent research into the brain and intelligence has demonstrated conclusively that we do not arrive in the world with a fixed quantity of intelligence, but rather that our intelligence increases or decreases depending on the way we choose to use our brains and respond to our environment. Intelligence is, in fact, expandable. Moreover, if we hold the belief that our intelligence is fixed, this can have a profoundly inhibiting effect on the kind of learners we become – we are more likely to prefer looking clever to learning, we become very focused on marks or grades to validate us as learners, we give up easily and we avoid challenge and effort. The good news is that changing this belief reverses these effects and produces learners who are more inclined to love learning, who are keen to expand their skills and knowledge, who value effort and who persist in the face of obstacles.

 

The pressures of parenting 

Parenting these days seems more demanding than ever before.  For many of us parenthood sits alongside demanding work, whether full- or part-time. More seems to be expected of us than the laissez-faire model of parenting provided by our own parents. We have to make sure that homework gets done and that our children excel on the many test and assessments they encounter during their school careers. We also try to make sure they don’t miss out on the many social, sporting and creative opportunities that are on offer alongside formal schooling

Searching for the path that lies between hothousing and neglect, we wonder whether to demand more or less of our children or whether we have failed to identify something that is holding them back. As they become teenagers we become more aware of the dangers they must navigate: depression, eating disorders, misuse of drugs or alcohol are well-recognised lures for young people with low self-esteem or those for whom school is a struggle.

It is easy to become swept up in the current of competitive parenting and feel overstretched and even overwhelmed, when all we really want is to produce confident, self-reliant adults who feel good about themselves and are capable of making their own way in the world in their post-education lives.

 

Quality of life 

Securing good exam results is an important aspiration but does not necessarily signify self-confident, engaged, committed, resourceful learners. The counselling services of elite universities confirm that they are dealing with ever-increasing numbers of very able student who lack confidence in their own abilities. Government and business tell us it is for the economic good of the country – if we want to sustain and increase our material standard of living, we need to produce ever greater numbers of highly-qualified school leavers and graduates. Yet there is increasing evidence to show that as material benefits rise, so too do levels of unhappiness, and depression.  Those who know how to become deeply absorbed in subjects that interest them already have a strong defence against unhappiness. Contemporary psychology is providing us with ample evidence that a rich inner life combined with an ability to connect and care for others are the surest ways to fulfilment.

 

The future 

We live in times of rapid change and development, as the media is constantly reminding us.  Globalization, advances in science and technology, and changing social and natural environments are just some of the factors that will reshape our world in unknown and unpredictable ways. Those who are to be successful in ten, twenty or thirty years time will be those who can think on their feet and respond to challenges, and who are inventive, open-minded and flexible in their thinking.  It is never too early or too late to start acquiring these habits of mind.