Friday Mindset #106

Helping students get better at studenting

Friday! So good to finally see you stroll into view. Taken your time this week, haven’t you?

Last call, ladies and gents, for our VESPA-themed training session. On December 11th, we’re in central London, 10:00-3:00. It’s just ten days away and we’d love you to come along!

Almost all of the spaces are filled now (we want to keep it small,) but we could tuck one or two more into the room, so stick a reminder to speak to your CPD lead and jump on the Eventbrite form below. Oh - and if you want a buddy along with you - or a small team, hit us up at [email protected], and we’ll arrange a discounted price for a small group.

And for newsletter subscribers only - we’re sticking around 3:00-4:00 to talk about anything you want. Questions, discussion, observations, rants, anything. You’re cordially invited.

We’d love to see you there!

OK, on to the rest. Let’s dive in.

Something to try...

January is on its way, and at this time of year our minds always turn to vision activities that will get our students feeling fired-up and motivated. The new-year-new-you-2024 feeling can be captured, bottled and productively explored in those early tutorial sessions.

In The A Level Mindset, we shared an activity called Fix Your Dashboard. It’s a vision-boarding session in which students populate an A3 piece of paper or similar with images, quotes, visual reminders and items of inspiration that represent what they’re hoping to achieve. Year 12 and 13 kids would have pictures of university campuses, dorm rooms, the free gym you get to use with this particular accommodation, lecture halls, undergrads partying, inspirational quotes, the whole shebang.

We did it because the students found it motivating and fun. It’s only over the last few weeks that we’ve realised there’s a neuroscientific basis for our task. We learnt about episodic future thinking: the time-travel we engage in when we vividly picture a future state.

Here’s an article that covers the idea beautifully, by Dr Jane McGonigal. It’s a five-minute read, and explores the idea that our episodic future thinking is based on our previous experiences…

This is something we should be thinking hard about.

If students’ ability to imagine the future comes largely from their past experiences… what if they haven’t the experiences to predict a compelling, motivational future state? What if they’ve never seen a university? Never left their town? What if they’ve never been in a lecture theatre? What if they have zero point of reference when we discuss 6th form colleges, or imagine studying courses at A level?

Questions that could be worth bearing in mind, even discussing, if you’re reading the piece with students.

Oh, and if you’ve a spare five minutes, here’s McGonigal explaining episodic future thinking during a zoom interview. We’ve clipped the best bit for you:

Something we're reading...

Closely linked to the above, we went on a hunt.

We were thinking about the importance of providing kids with vivid, visceral, memorable experiences that help build their capacity to engage in episodic future thinking.

One tool in our kit, we reckoned, might be a really strong, engaging alumni programme. A well-run, varied programme can make all the difference, and after a bit of digging, we came across a decent guide to help you if you’ve never run one before.

It’s been a good read. Check it out:

Our latest offer...

A free VESPA activity for you this week! Consider it an early Christmas present.

Back in The A Level Mindset, we started the ‘Vision’ section with a session called Twenty Questions. We’ve run it so many times now, we’ve virtually replaced/adjusted every single question over the years.

So ‘Another Twenty Questions’ was born. We thought we’d put it in the new book, coming February… but then had a change of heart. So now it has no home. Someone adopt it!

Tony’s done a terrific job turning it into a neat presentation here. It’s perfect for January… use and enjoy:

And that’s it for this week.

It’s December at last. Don’t forget to pick up some cheap-as-chips mulled wine on the way home eh. And book yourself on our course!

All the best to you and yours,

Martin, Steve and Tony