Sunday, January 24, 2016

Food for Thought: Student leadership


Dear all,

Hope you have had a relaxing weekend. I want to share this article from Mindshift that provides interesting research about who we should be looking to amongst our students to become the leaders in our classrooms when dealing with issues such as bullying, academic dishonesty, cyber safety etc.

"Despite a surge in policy and research attention to conflict and bullying among adolescents, there is little evidence to suggest that current interventions reduce school conflict. Using a large scale field experiment, we show that it is possible to reduce conflict with a student-driven intervention. By encouraging a small set of students to take a public stance against typical forms of conflict at their school, our intervention reduced overall levels of conflict by an estimated 30%. Network analyses reveal that certain kinds of students (called “social referents”) have an outsized influence over social norms and behavior at the school. The study demonstrates the power of peer influence for changing climates of conflict, and suggests which students to involve in those efforts."

In my career I have heard many people complain that the best candidate didn't get elected to be the class representative on the student council because students just voted on popularity. This article points out that this might not be such a bad thing.

It is also certainly worth taking a look at the link to the Roots curriculum that has been set up to create a student driven positive school climate that might further embed our move towards becoming a positive education school.

See you tomorrow,

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Food for Thought: Thinking deeply about learning

Dear all,

Thank you for an excellent week back at school. I hope that  we can spend this semester learning more about positive education and how it can impact our own lives and make us all healthier and more energized. This article from Mindshift looks at the positive impact that advisory can have on student culture.

This weeks Food for Thought is a long(ish) essay that questions how much we really understand about how children learn. It questions why we collect data and generalize based on “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic," WEIRD, societies that were not representative of humanity as a whole. We then focus our research on learning in schools that could be seen as artificial constructs that might reduce learning rather than promote it. Hence distorting our conclusions. The essay uses different cultural backgrounds to discuss whether our western oriented opinions on this topic are actually valid whilst identifying what we can learn for wise thinking from different parts of the world.

"...Any Gikuyu mother in Kenya knows that you wait to give a child a task until you see that she is ready for it.  Any Baiga father in the forests of India knows that if a child tries something and then backs away, you leave him alone, because he will be back to try again later. Any Yup’ik elder knows that young children learn better from story than lecture, from hands-on experience than direct instruction. Any Fore parent from Papua New Guinea knows that children sometimes learn best by emulating older children, not by being taught by adults. 
People all over the world know these things about children and learning, and interestingly, they are as workable for learning how to design software or conduct a scientific experiment or write an elegant essay as they are for learning to hunt caribou or identify medicinal plants in a rainforest."

This video interview with a Maori teacher, Mereana, from the essay, is an excellent example of how we need to listen to other cultures to develop a deeper understanding of learning. So much of what she refers to in her short inteview links directly to what we heard in our Positive Ed. workshops and what positive psychology is discovering today. 

The essay ends with this sentence that I am sure we can all empathize with:

"Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies."

There is much we still have to learn from others about student learning.

Have a relaxing Sunday,


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Food for Thought: Preparation for Positive Education Workshops

Dear all,

I hope you have all had a wonderful vacation, are relaxed, healthy and ready for Semester 2.

This is a very short Food for Thought because I want you to have time to watch the 14 minute video. This video will help you prepare for your semester 2 and how you approach your life. This video will give you plenty to think about in how to programme your mind to be more positive.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy 2016.