There is a vast literature to consult on what effective learning is all about – so vast that it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a selection of books and articles that have inspired my work, and form a starting point for curious parents and educators.



 Mindset  by Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University in California and probably the most influential educational psychologist alive today. For forty years she has been involved in research into intelligence and achievement. Through many cleverly designed experiments, she has demonstrated the power of our mindset to determine our success. She shows us that it is not just our abilities or talents that do this, but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset.  She makes clear why praising children’s intelligence and ability does not foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success.  The message of this book is that a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of accomplishment in every area. For once the cover blurb is right – this is a book that can change your life!


 New Kinds of Smart  by Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton

Written by the co-directors of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester this book discusses the science of learnable intelligence and its implications for all kinds of learners. It builds on the work of Carol Dweck and on Guy Claxton’s own programme, Building Learning Power, which is steadily spreading through schools in the UK.  The authors describe intelligence as a collection of dispositions that can be honed and developed. They emphasise the collaborative and practical aspects of learning that are so often overlooked by our education system and suggest the changes that need to be made to meet the future with confidence.


The Bright Stuff  by C. J. Simister

Jane Simister is a Cambridge economics graduate who became a teacher and set up and ran an innovative school programme developed to help children of all ages become more independent, more critical and more creative in their thinking. In this book she provides a wealth of games, activities and exercises to engage and encourage children to achieve their full potential.


Calmer Parenting  by Noel Janis Norton

Noel and her colleagues in West Hampstead, London have been helping parents to achieve calmer, easier, happier parenting for many years. Now the wisdom she dispenses has been distilled into a book. She shows us what children need in order to become more cooperative, enthusiastic and motivated and provides the tools and techniques to help parents remain positive, firm and consistent. Following her advice helps to create the kind of family which fosters success.




The Happy Puzzle Company

Playing games, tackling puzzles and making things are all  great antidotes to the pervasive screen (whether it’s a television, computer, games consol, i-pad or phone). You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these; charity shops are usually treasure troves of perfectly good second-hand ones. However, for a fantastic collection of games and activities that will challenge the thinking skills of the whole family, including those with special educational needs, go online and order a catalogue from this award-winning company.