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Microsoft Word - Brain Power.docActivity 1: Positive feelings
On a scale one to five indicate how you feel by holding up your hand. Five if feeling really great,
four feeling less than great but still pretty good, etc.
Discuss with the person next to you – how would most of the pupils you see respond to the day
ahead if asked to rate it on a scale of one to five. It might be useful to remind yourself of Maslow’s
pyramid of needs (module 1, theme 2).
One of the major tasks of the learning mentor to support their pupils so that they have strategies
they can use to make themselves feel positive and alert about learning.
Activity 2: Promoting a positive learning environment
For this activity mentors might like to be organised in groups of their preferred key stage.
Look at the ‘accelerated learning or mind friendly’ framework for learning handout/overhead (OHT
2 and 3). In groups of three think and record on a sheet of A4 three examples of good practice in
your school for each of the different stages? Display centrally and add to during the day.
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Where are the greatest risks for the gifted and talented underachiever within this circle? Do you
have pupils with whom it is possible to discuss this circle? What sort of issues will you need to
raise with the pupil(s) in order to discuss how they can move forwards themselves with this? How
can you address the learning needs with the pupils’ teacher(s)? What implications are there for
other staff in the school with whom your pupils interact?
Activity 3: What is it to do with the brain?
Your trainer will discuss some elementary ways in which the brain processes information using
OHTs 4 and 5.
In pairs, look at the sheet on differences between the brain’s hemispheres. Mark in the columns
next to each statement which hemisphere function you think they belong to – right (gestalt) and
left (logic).
Now look at your findings. People may show a preference for one side of the brain or the other.
Do you feel that one side of your brain is being used more than the other? Do you recognise
characteristics among the students with whom you deal?
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It is obviously necessary to use both hemispheres to be become more proficient and the
educational Kinesiology Foundation has drawn up extensive strategies on how to do this. In
schools these are sometimes called brain breaks.
What’s what?
The cerebrum contains two hemispheres, each with four lobes – occipital, parietal, temporal and
frontal. The two hemispheres are connected with white matter – the connective motor and sensory
axons in a structure called the Corpus Callosum. The cerebrum has cross over pattern so the
each side of the body communicates with the opposite hemisphere, i.e. information coming into
the left ear goes to the right temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex. Each hemisphere of the
cerebrum develops and processes information in a specific way.
In very simple terms, the left usually deals with details, parts and process of language and linear
patterns. The right hemisphere usually deals with whole processing or global – images, rhythm,
etc. The Corpus Callosum then acts as a superhighway allowing quick access to both.
Mark next to each statement either an L or R to indicate whether they are more likely to be left or
right brain functions. Remember this is very simplified.
Art (image emotion, flow) Sees whole picture
Simultaneous thinking Starts with pieces first
Parts of language Technique
Now-orientated Art (media, tool use, how to do)
Music (passion, rhythm, image) Numbers
Controls Intuition
Feelings Estimates
Spontaneous – fluid Language comprehension
Flow and movement Syntax
Future – orientated Letter, sentences
Rhythm, flow, dialect Analysis – linear
Planned – structured Feelings/experience oriented
Adapted from: Hannaford, C. (1995) Smart Moves, Great Ocean Publishers.
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Activity 4: Exercise for the brain
Practice as a whole group midline movements. These are brain gym activities designed to
practice using both brain hemispheres together. They attempt by crossing the midline to enhance
whole brain integration. They also assist as ‘energisers’ to regulate levels of arousal or whole
brain activity to facilitate ‘readiness to learn’. These are now very common in schools and any
group doing them can probably add several more to their repertoire.
Cross crawl is an activity which involves the midline. The young person touches their right knee
with their left hand, left knee with right hand, etc. The movement has to be co-ordinated so that
when one arm moves the leg on the opposite side of the body needs to be moving at the same
These can also be done as movements to music – Spirit in the Sky (Doctor and the Medics) is a
good one for this, but really any music with a strong rhythm will do.
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Cross Crawl sit-ups (for the fit!) – the person lies on the floor with their hands behind their heads
and pretends that they are riding a bicycle with their legs and touch their elbows to the opposite
Lazy 8s – the person draws the number 8 using a chalk or white board three times with each hand
and then three times with both hands together.
Double Doodle – the person draws with both hands at the same time; in, out, up and down.
Neck Rolls – the person practices rolling their head in circles. First one way and then the other.
Here are some more examples of ‘brain breaks’ that can be used to relieve physical stress,
enhance fine and large motor movement and improve co-ordination.
Cross crawl sit-ups
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♦ Nose and ears – the young person puts their left hand on right ear and right hand on
nose, and then vice versa.
♦ With hands together, extend arms and trace large circles first in one direction and then the
other, keep your lips and teeth together.
♦ Practice shrugging shoulders slowly forwards, then slowly backwards.
♦ Practice good breathing for ten breaths, deep and slow. Count in and count out. Do not
hold the breath, just breathe deeply.
♦ Sitting in a seat with hands holding the seat, extend the feet forwards and rotate first in
one direction and then the other.
Activity 5
The lazy 8s exercise can be adapted to provide exercise for the eyes. It is in fact quite a relaxing
exercise, which does help eyestrain, but certainly can be used to identify and help children who
have jerky eye movements, making it difficult for them to read and write texts.
By yourself, hold your thumb (right or left) at eye level, about a foot from the midpoint between
your eyes. Now make a lazy 8 with the thumb, starting as before from mid point and moving in a
circle towards the left before going round to the top right.
Keep your head still and track the thumb movement with your eyes. Those wearing glasses might
like to take them off.
In pairs, one person stands in front of the other and moves their thumb or finger across from the
midpoint of the other person’s field of vision. The partner tracks the finger with their eyes, without
moving their head. The exercise is then repeated with the finger moving from the midpoint
upwards and then downwards. The partner moving the finger should note how much the eye
jumps, and where the jumping occurs.
When doing this with children, it is often very easy to see why some children do have trouble
following a line of text. The exercise itself helps to exercise the eye muscles and relaxes the eyes.
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Activity 6: Thinking skills
You trainer will outline some of De Bono’s attention directing tools using OHTs 8 and 9.
Six hats thinking
This is an excellent activity to use with small groups of mentees to stimulate their thinking on
certain topics. We suggest you practise it during the session in small groups of four to six
Think about the meaning if the phrase ‘looking at the world through rose-coloured spectacles’.
You look at events or problems in a particular way – this means by only seeing good things and
ignoring everything else.
‘Six hats thinking’ is a way of looking at problems and ideas in a number of different ways so you
can explore all the angles and possibilities. You can use all the different parts of your brain whilst
doing it. With each different coloured hat you imagine putting on, you take a different approach to
the problem.
The blue hat is the organising hat, which you always start and finish with. One person can keep
the blue hat and chair the discussion. The group then considers the topic ‘wearing’ each of the
hats in turn as outlined below – first the red hat, then the white hat, the yellow hat, the black hat
and lastly the green hat.
Instead of one person trying to win an argument, maybe by shouting the loudest, everyone has to
take the same approach at the same time so that the group can reach an agreement – or decide
not to.
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Ideas for six hats discussion
♦ As young males between 14 and 20 commit most crimes, they should be subjected to a
curfew between the hours of 9.00 at night and 6.00 in the morning.
♦ Parents/carers of young people of school age should have to pay a fine of £50 to their
school each time they truant.
♦ Corporal punishment should be brought back into school to control behaviour.
♦ Victims of a crime should be able to decide the most suitable punishment for the criminal.
♦ All persistent truants should be tagged.
♦ The school leaving age should be lowered to 14.
♦ People who live in cities should not be allowed to keep a pet larger then a hamster.
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Research File
Purpose: The purpose of this very brief review of the latest developments about how brain power
♦ to provide an overview of how research on how people learn is being communicated into
schools and what applications this has for learning mentoring;
♦ to direct mentors to some of the sources of the information, so that they can identify
popular misconceptions and avoid developing yet more deficit models of why some
children (and adults) ‘fail’ in school;
♦ to review and reflect on knowledge and skills already touched upon in other modules.
There has been a revolution in the study of the mind over the past 40 years. So far most of the
practical outcomes have been directed at business. In the last five years, the implications of these
new ideas have been developed and adapted for education. In the US and UK, much of this work
has been done by commercial organisations.
In the beginning, these new research findings had little opportunity to develop in the UK, as the
strategies for literacy and numeracy relied on a ‘delivery’ input. The frameworks were supported
by a vast quantity of central government and commercial publications which set out generic
planning for these two core areas. This planning now includes very detailed lesson plans which
tell the teacher what to do, say and practise.
The new learning theory does not provide such a simple recipe for designing effective learning
environments. In the first place it challenges educational goals. Goals for the 21st century are very
different from those in the past. A quick look at a photograph of a Victorian classroom reminds us
of how challenges and expectations have changed very dramatically. No longer can we view
learners as raw materials to be processed. Learners today need to understand the current state of
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their own knowledge and to build on it, improve it and be able to make decisions when choices
are not obvious.
Pupils are not vessels to be filled. Effective teaching cannot be ‘delivery’ of a series of texts.
Learning mentors are just one of the structural outcomes of this changing understanding of the
work of schools. They are effectively an acknowledgement that an increasing number of our
children do not learn very effectively in a 20th or even 19th century learning environment. The
underachievement of all our learners is a tragedy; the underachievement of the gifted and talented
is a disaster, both personally and nationally. The early childhood of many very creative people
was often a failure in terms of schooling outcomes and there are many examples of geniuses who
were written off early in their education. How many fail at the first hurdle?
Effective, enjoyable and satisfying learning is closely linked to other issues which concern
mentors such as a whole school learning ethos, behaviour management and inclusion.
1. The emerging science of learning: brain, mind, experience and school
There has been a revolution in the study of the mind which has important implications for
education. A new theory of learning is coming into focus that leads – or should lead – to very
different approaches to the design of curriculum, teaching and assessment. This has involved a
growth of interdisciplinary inquiries and new kinds of scientific collaborations.
This integrated approach to research has helped to make the path from basic research to
educational practice more visible. In particular neuroscience is beginning to show how learning
changes the physical structure of the brain. This starts at conception and is heavily concentrated
in the first four years of life. However, for those of us at the opposite end of the growth continuum,
there are some useful findings about ways in which the brain fixes itself and strategies to keep the
brain sharp as we age!
In 2000, the American National Academy of Sciences published a very readable text on How
People Learn, which is available on the internet It covered the work of two of its
committees and was aimed at linking the findings of research on the science of learning to actual
practice in the classroom. It is divided into four parts covering:
♦ Introduction – from speculation to science
♦ Learners and Learning – how experts differ from novices; learning and transfer; how
children learn; mind and brain
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learning; technology to support learning
♦ Future Directions for the Science of Learning
The book explores how the variety of research approaches and techniques have been developed
and ways in which evidence from many different branches of science are beginning to converge.
‘Research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent
performance and the principles of knowledge organisation that underlie people’s abilities to solve
problems in a wide variety of areas, including mathematics, science, literature, social studies and
Developmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic
principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative and personal intent, and that
these capabilities make it possible to create innovative curricula that introduce important concepts
for advanced reasoning at early ages.
Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structured learning
experiences that enable people to use what they have learnt in new settings.
Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology and anthropology is making clear that all learning
takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and
that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways.
Neuroscience is beginning to provide evidence for many principles of learning that have emerged
from laboratory research, and it is showing how learning changes the physical structure of the
brain and, with it, the functional organisation of the brain.
Collaborative studies of the design and evaluation of learning environments, among cognitive and
developmental psychologists and educators are yielding to new knowledge about the nature of
earning and teaching as it takes place in a variety of settings. In addition, researchers are
discovering ways to learn from the ‘wisdom of practice’ that comes from successful teachers who
can share their expertise.
Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and
enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago.’
NRC (2000) How People Learn, National Academy Press
All the strategies identified below present new (and some old) ideas about ways to facilitate
learning. They have all used the research on human learning, including neuroscience, to focus on
learning research that has implications for schooling and the possibility of helping all individuals
achieve their fullest potential.
Carter, R. (2002) Mapping the Mind, Phoenix.
Greenfield, S. (1998) The Human Brain, a Guided Tour, Phoenix (abridged version available on
Orion Audio Books).
NRC (2000) How People Learn, National Academy Press.
Smith, A. (2002) The Brain’s Behind it, Network Educational Press.
2. The learning revolution
Jeanette Vos and Gordon Dryden originally wrote The Learning Revolution in 1993. It has been a
worldwide best seller and updated several times. There is no modesty in this book. It promises to
be a catalyst to change the way you think, live, learn, work, teach and act and it is great fun to
read. If you are concerned you have no time to read it, you are shown how you can read the
whole 544 pages of the book in 30 minutes. The process of reading is itself a learning point.
This is an inspirational text, rather than an academic one. It summarises research on learning
from a wide range of disciplines. It synthesises that into a new theory of learning and a learning
society. It reports how that knowledge is already bringing about revolutionary breakthroughs in
learning, education, business and families. It presents current findings crisply and clearly and its
layout helps that process.
You may disagree with some of the evaluations and find the hype off putting. But it is a book worth
reading either as a starting point to challenging conventional views about learning or as a
popularist review to some of the work being done on translating new ideas into practice round the
The book is available to read on line at and has also been made into 16
colour slide shows on a CD-ROM (one for each chapter).
Suggested reading
Dryden, G. & Vos, J. (2001 UK edition) The Learning Revolution, Network Educational Press.
3. Accelerated learning
Cavigolioli and Harris in their book on mind mapping define accelerated learning as a ‘considered,
generic approach to learning based on research drawn from disparate disciplines and tested with
different age groups and different ability levels in very different circumstances’. This definition is
probably as good as any. For the term accelerated learning can be misleading. It is not for a
specific group of learners, or for a particular age group, nor for a particular category of perceived
ability. It does not mean doing the same things faster.
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It seems to have come originally from Colin Rose’s book Accelerated Learning, written in 1976. At
this time the idea of accelerated learning seems to have largely stayed within the American
system and extended particularly into corporation and business management. A quick web search
on accelerated learning exemplifies this move into business, where consultants in accelerated
learning clearly found business corporations more open and profitable than education.
The growth and expansion of accelerated learning in the UK has been largely due to the work of
Alistair Smith, the organisation Alite and the publishing house Network Educational Press. The
quality of in-service provision is very high and uses the philosophy of accelerated learning to
ensure that participants engage in the process. There are now a number of independent
consultants working in the UK on accelerated learning within local education authorities and the
term ‘accelerated learning’ has sometimes been altered to Mind Friendly Learning or Brain Based
Learning. This search for another term is largely due to the fear that the term accelerated learning
is misinterpreted by being linked in some way to specific groups of learners. It is of course for all
of us as continuous learners, striving for ways in which we can learn more effectively as well as
meet the challenges of large amounts of multifaceted information to which we have access.
The Alite website makes a good starting point for information about accelerated
learning. It contains useful readings, case studies, bulletin boards and courses.
The accelerated learning cycle
This is the latest version of the circle from recent Alite publications and the Alite website.
Smith in The ALPS Approach: Accelerated Learning in Primary Schools explains that the
accelerated learning cycle is the heart of the ALPS approach to classroom strategies that build
and maintain ‘a positive and supportive achievement culture’.
1. Connecting the learning
3. Describing the outcomes
7. Reviewing for recall
‘Throughout the ALPS approach the educator endeavours to develop content and process
engagement. By the end of the ALPS experience the child should be confident and skilled in the
use of the new three ‘Rs’: responsibility, resourcefulness and resilience.’
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Another useful accelerated learning cycle comes from Peter Greenhalgh, formerly a senior
adviser for Cheshire LA and now a consultant working in schools and with LAs. His Reaching Out
to All Learners is a particularly accessible booklet for a Mind Friendly Framework for Learning
(see below).
Accelerated learning has also looked at other strategies. Some of these are essentially revamped
versions of knowledge which has long been known, but not processed in a way which identifies it
as strategies for optimising learning environments. These include:
♦ work on physiology and learning. This is closely linked to Maslow’s work on ‘hierarchy of
needs’, which showed that learners have to be in a good physical state for learning. This
includes learners:
having constant access to water to avoid dehydration which can lead to drowsiness,
inattention and poor learning;
eating a good diet;
♦ teaching specific skills such as listening, paying attention, concentrating, good sitting;
♦ providing a good, secure and purposeful working environment.
The Educational Network Press produces several excellent books which go into these strategies
in much greater detail. They differ considerably from the Tips for Teachers texts because they
explain ‘why’ and well as ‘how’. Ginnis’ book (see below) is aimed more at the secondary sector.
Suggested reading
Batmanghelidj, F. (2002) Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Tagman Press
Ginns, P. (2002) The Teacher’s Toolkit: Raise Classroom Achievement with Strategies for Every
Learner, Crown House Publishing
Greenhalgh, P. (2002) Reaching out to all learners, Network Educational Press
Rose, C and Gall, L. (1992) Accelerate your Learning, Accelerated Learning Systems
Smith, A. & Call, N. (2000) the alps approach: accelerated learning in primary schools, Network
Educational Press
Smith, A. & Call, N. (2001) the alps approach resource book, Network Educational Press
Tracy, B. with Rose, C. (1995) Accelerated
4. Emotional Literacy
The centre of this cycle is the ‘Mind State’ for learning. Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence
refines what it ‘takes to be smart’ and in module 4, this will be looked at in much greater depth.
Gardner’s theories on interpersonal intelligence fit into this very easily, but the underachieving
gifted and talented pupil, may easily have good interpersonal skills and be deliberately
underachieving in order to form, build and sustain good relationships with their peers.
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output and school marks may be the same.
Underachievers are likely to have emotional problems, with poor self-esteem. They may find it
difficult to make changes in their behaviour by themselves and the role of the mentor may be
Non-producers are emotionally strong and confident of their own ability. They are choosing not to
comply and are probably successful in their own way in areas which are not connected with
school work. They may have decided how they can best ‘survive’ school and can then leave and
choose how to achieve in their own way.
Mentors will meet and probably have to identify both underachievers and non-producers.
Freeman (1999) suggests that some signs of underachievement in the potentially very able child
♦ Friendly with older children and adults
♦ Extremely self-critical, anxious and may feel rejected by family
♦ Hostile towards authority
♦ Aspirations too low for aptitudes
♦ Does not set own goals but relies on teacher for decisions
♦ Does not think ahead
♦ Thinks in abstract terms
♦ High level work has deteriorated over term
She then offers suggestions for helping underachievers:
♦ Affirm worth by praise for even small things
♦ Daily review of progress
♦ Involve pupil in decisions about their own education e.g. setting own goals
♦ Make the material relevant to child’s interests
♦ Have pupil mark own work before handing it in to the teacher
♦ Tutoring of younger pupils in underachiever’s areas of strength
♦ Mentoring in area of pupil’s interests
♦ Accept pupil without emotional strings
♦ Encouraging out of school interests
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♦ Improving classroom instruction and curriculum
♦ Advising the teacher
Suggested reading
an audio tape)
5. Tony Buzan and Mind Mapping ®
Tony Buzan takes great pleasure in these books and on his website in identifying himself as an
underachiever in school, who has had great personal and commercial success once he left it. His
latest – and very readable book – Headstrong – describes how his teachers’ comments had him
down as:
♦ ‘Could do better’
He questions not only who defines intelligence, but also the idea that it is static. His many easy-to-
read publications cover strategies to improve memory, creativity, concentration, communicative
ability, thinking skills, learning skills, study skills, general intelligence and quickness of mind.
The Mind Map Book published originally in 1993 is just one of his many publications. The term
‘mind map’ is patented and testifies that he was certainly one of the first in this area to recognise
not only its use, but its commercial potential. It certainly attracted more attention in the business
world first, but recently has received much more publicity in the UK. Put very simply, a mind map
is a thinking tool which helps its creator to organise relevant information in your brain and links ‘in
a whole picture’ to information coming in.
The mind-map website – – provides a helpful guide to how to mind map, see
map below. Ideally it helps to attend a training course where you can work through the process
with an expert. Both the Buzan Centre website and that for Alite can direct you to courses in the
This particular technique is one that is particularly appropriate for underachieving gifted and
talented children who may have more information to organise! Buzan has published a pocket book
version How to Mind Map and also one for children.
Another useful guide is Mapwise: accelerated learning through visible thinking by Oliver Caviglioli
and Ian Harris. This offers ‘model mapping’ as a means of addressing National Curriculum
thinking skills requirements by ‘infusing thinking into subject teaching’.
Suggested reading
Buzan, T. (2001) Headstrong
Buzan, T & B (2002) The Mind Map Book, BBC Publications
Buzan, T. (2002) How to Mind Map, Thorsons
Cavigliol, O. & Harris, I. (2001) Mapwise, Network Educational Press
Wheatley, M. (2002) Mapping Inner Space, Zephyr Press
Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K) is an ‘education movement based programme which uses simple
movements to integrate the whole brain, senses and body, preparing the person with the physical
skills they need to learn effectively’ (from
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Often known as ‘brain breaks’, Brain Gym® and water bottles are most observed strategies of
new approaches to teaching. Edu-K came originally from the US and was the result of research
into learning and brain function by Paul Dennison. The US website gives a good overview of the
history and rational of this (
It was originally developed to help adults and children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia,
dyspraxia and ADHD. It has now developed into a more generic action programme to improve
everyone’s life. The benefit claims are fairly extensive, but are closely linked to the Healthy
Schools programme in the UK. The Brain Gym ® movements are claimed to help with:
♦ Academic skills – reading, writing, spelling and maths
♦ Memory, concentration and focus
♦ Physical co-ordination and balance
♦ The achievement of goals, both professional and personal
Paul Dennison describes human brain function in terms of three dimensions: laterality, focus and
centring. ‘Successful brain function requires efficient connections across the neural pathways
located throughout the brain. Stress inhibits these connections, while Brain Gym® movements
stimulate a flow of information across the networks’ (from
The exercises suggested in the guidance for participants and those seen in school are nearly
always related to the laterality dimension. They concentrate on the relationship between the two
sides of the brain, in particular the ‘midfield’ where the two sides must integrate. The focus
dimension describes the relationship between the back and the front areas of the brain and the
centring dimension concerns the connection between the top and the bottom structures of the
brain. There is a very limited number of properly accredited in Brain Gym® as the full accreditation
takes several years. For this reason, it is very rare to see Brain Gym® being carried out in schools
as it was originally intended.
However, the brain breaks approach used by Alistair Smith in the accelerated learning programme
is probably one of the most straight forward to take. He describes several different types of
activities including:
♦ Laterality exercises – any exercise that involves crossing the mid-line of the body
♦ Focus exercises – exercises, such as Nose ‘n’ ears, where the children put their right
hand on their nose and their left hand across the front of their face to hold the right ear
lightly. As they then swap round, so that the left hand is holding their nose and the right
hand is across the front of the face and holding the left ear. Smith suggests that these
types of activities require intense focus and this can be transferred to learning once the
activity has been done. It is certainly fun.
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♦ Relaxers exercises – ear rolls – with a finger and thumb massage ears slowly, starting at
the top and roll round to the ear lobes.
♦ Learning numbers, letters and words – clasping hands together, with index fingers or
thumbs pointing out. Then in front of their faces, moving their hands in the shape of the
numbers, letters or words.
♦ Chaining material – encouraging children to remember information in sequence by linking
it with a series of physical movements e.g. miming.
Primary pupils in particular really seem to enjoy the physical activity involved with these
movements and they certainly seem to provide much needed breaks in schools where less
physical education is taking place than ever before. It may also be that because so many children
have so much less exercise outside school, these exercises can be taught and used at home as
Suggested reading
Dennison, P & G. (1986) Brain Gym, Edu-Kinesthetics (available in the UK from and Body Balance Books phone 020 8202 9747)
Hannaford, C. (1995) Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all in your head, Great Ocean Publishers
Smith, A. & Call, N. (1999) The alps approach, Network Education Press
7. NLP – Neurological Linguistic Programming™
NLP ‘studies brilliance and quality – how outstanding individuals and organisations get their
outstanding results’ (Connor, J. 2002). This may sound rather esoteric, but actually boils down to
something with which we are all familiar ‘modelling’. In both the literacy and numeracy strategies
‘modelling’ is used as a teaching strategy.
NLP™ is defined as the study of the structure of subjective experience and what can be
calculated from that. It is based on the belief that all behaviour has structure. It was begun in the
mid-70s by John Grinder (a linguist) and Richard Bandler (a mathematician). They were interested
in successful people, psychology, language and computer programming. NLP™ claims (according
to the Skeptic’s Dictionary website!) to help people change by teaching them to programme their
As its name suggests it uses information about:
N Neurology The mind and how we think
L Linguistics How we use language and how it affects us
P Programming How we sequence our actions to achieve goals
NLP has six basic principles, known as the pillars of NLP:
♦ You – your emotional state and level of skill
♦ The presuppositions – the principles of NLP
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♦ Rapport – the quality of relationship
♦ Outcome – knowing what you want
♦ Feedback – how will you know you are getting what you want
♦ Flexibility – if what you are doing is not working, then do something else
There are many links here with other areas examined in this review. This is not surprising and
although NLP™ is probably, like Brain Gym®, on the fringes of New Age programmes in the
Education Field it does provide some useful insights.
For example it looks in much greater detail at the way in which we use our senses to gather
information and uses narratives to give insights into the world in which we live. In schools,
personal, social and health education have always drawn on narrative to provide a framework for
looking and making sense of the child’s world. Examining how speech may translate differently for
different types of learners, it sharpens up awareness of reasons why some children may not ‘hear’
what is being asked of them and the need to ensure that oral communication is influenced by
sensory preferences.
General Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic
I don’t understand I’m in the dark That’s all Greek to me I can’t make head nor
tail of it
I don’t know It’s not clear yet I can’t tell if that’s right I don’t have a handle
on that idea
I get your drift
I think My view is… Something tells me I hold these views
I’m confused This is a mess There’s no rhyme or
reason to this
I can’t get a grip
It’s too obscure It sounds crazy None of this fits
Suggested reading
Bandler, R. (1985) Using Your Brain for a Change, Real People Press
NLP Comprehensive (1993) NLP The New Technology of Achievement, Simon and Schuster
O’Connor, J. & McDermott, I. (1996) An introduction to NLP, Thorsons Audio
O’Connor, J. (2001) NLP Workbook, element
9. Thinking Skills
Karen Gold’s article in the Times Educational Supplement (see below) provides a good overview
of the current thinking about the various theories on thinking skills. Since the 1990s there has
been a growing body of evidence that shows that teaching thinking boosts children’s school
achievement. In 1999, the then Education Secretary, David Blunkett added five ‘thinking skills’ into
National Curriculum 2000. These were:
♦ Information processing
♦ Evaluation
Unfortunately, Gold points out, nobody in schools was quite sure how to teach them!
The traditional model of thinking skills was based on ideas of Piaget and Vygotsky, but this
cognitive acceleration model is now seen as being too narrow. It tends to be linked to specific
subjects and encourages ‘cognitive conflict’ in children, making them solve specific maths/science
problems which are slightly beyond their expected mental development.
Other psychologists have argued that thinking can be improved more quickly through direct
teaching. It also involves creativity as well as deductive reasoning.
The literacy trust website looks at several
initiatives which evidence the value of teaching thinking skills. Certainly the accelerated learning
initiative looks at specific techniques and much of the material for the gifted and talented has gone
back to looking at ideas which de Bono was outlining more than 30 years ago.
De Bono’s The CORT Thinking Programme, produced in 1973 looked at strategies for generating
ideas for lateral thinking. He called them ‘attention-directing tools’ and they included:
Thinking tools can be used independently or as small groups of two or three. They are attention
directing tools and different from de Bono’s The Thinking Hats. These, he suggested, can also be
used individually and separately or in a sequence.
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Reuven Feuerstein has been described as the father of the thinking skills movement and has
been working on teaching thinking skills for over 40 years. He believes that cognitive deficiencies
can be corrected and intelligence is modifiable, not fixed. ‘Intelligence is not a static structure, but
an open dynamic system that can continue to develop throughout life’. He developed Instrumental
Enrichment (IE) as an intervention programme to enhance cognitive skills necessary for
independent thinking. The goal of this programme is to shape the cognitive structure of the
individual and to produce and set in motion their further development (website – see below).
Instrumental Enrichment is intended to:
♦ sharpen critical thinking with the concepts, skills, strategies, operations, and attitudes
necessary for independent learning;
♦ help individuals how to learn.
The programme was developed for low-performing adolescents, but has been developed and
taken up more widely to improve the intellectual and behavioural performance of pupils in
mainstream schools. It has also been successfully used with children with dyslexia and Down’s
Syndrome and other genetic conditions.
Suggested reading
De Bono E. (1992) Teach Your Child How to Think, Penguin.
Fisher, R. (1998) Teaching Thinking, Cassell.
Gold, K. (2002) ‘Thinking: the next big idea’ in TES 14/06/02.
9. Philosophy for children
A separate strand of teaching thinking, with roots in philosophy rather than psychology, has been
gaining popularity in schools. The best know proponent of philosophy for children is Robert Fisher.
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His book Teaching Children to Think makes excellent reading and covers many different areas
involved. It identifies and acknowledges the work of others in the field. It covers creative and
critical thinking, problem solving, instrumental enrichment, ways in which to teach for thinking in
language, maths and across the curriculum. His chapter on philosophy for children provides some
very practical ideas for running a discussion. He looks at and defines different structures to use –
individual, group, tutorial, didactic, conference, class meeting and Socratic. This highlights the
different teaching roles of the teacher as well as clarifying the role of the learner. He looks at
starting points for discussion on matters of ‘perennial concern’ such as fairness, freedom,
friendship, truth, knowledge and judgement.
Suggested reading