Negative Suggestion and the learning tightrope

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Negative suggestion is pretty common. “Try not to fall off”, “Don’t push that button” are both examples. The problem is it seems to have pretty standard effects too. You fall off. You end up pushing that button. The suggestion to a person not to do something results in increasing the likelihood that the person will actually do it. Made me … Read More

The Weakest Pronoun

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James Pennebaker has discovered some astonishing things about pronouns and how we use them. “Basically, we discovered that in any interaction, the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status.” Strange. But then for those who don’t believe there is any gender inequality there’s this. Most people assume that men use … Read More

Many nations, many views of psychology

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In Britain, there was a noteworthy interest in individual differences, the distribution of these differences in the population and the significance of this data in social, educational and political questions. The result was a psychology intimately bound up with statistics. In France, a clinical method and an interest in the exceptional, perhaps pathological, individual case (the hysteric, the prodigy of … Read More

More on Mindfulness in Schools

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Still thinking about ways of cultivating mindfulness & resilience in students. There’s an excellent article at Psyblog called How Meditation Improves Attention. It provides some evidence from the academics and, usefully for my purposes, a quick beginner’s guide which is simple enough to explain to students. Meditation is like chess: the rules are relatively easy to explain, but the game … Read More

Saccharine playgrounds don’t help anyone

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From: Can a Playground Be Too Safe? – NYTimes.com “Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give … Read More

Writing helps children’s executive function

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During the school years, especially from ages 8-18, the most rapid phase of maturation is taking place in the prefrontal cortex. This is a critical time during which the brain is developing the individual’s executive functions. These include judgment, critical analysis, induction, deduction, delay of immediate gratification for long-term goals, recognition of relationships (symbolism, conceptualization), prioritizing, risk assessment, organization, creative … Read More

Penn Resiliency Program

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OK. This is frustrating. The Penn resiliency Program looks like something I’d like to try at school, but I can’t find any people who offer courses for staff and schools. There seem to have been some pilots in the UK. The Young Foundation has a good writeup of the Government’s trail version of the scheme (“The UK Resilience Programme”). The … Read More

Disenfranchised Introverts

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Martin Seligman has an interesting book out called Flourish. Its strapline is “This book will help you flourish”. Now, I have to own up to a knee-jerk prejudice about books with these sorts of titles. But while the book may be self-help, it is grounded in research. Seligman is a pretty distinguished academic, and his work on Flourishing and positive … Read More