Friday Mindset #112

Helping students get better at studenting

Happy Friday!

It’s February at last! Thank God - longer nights, a break in sight, and Martin’s birthday. OK, no time to waste, folks, let’s dive in.

Something to try...

Fancy a video to watch - perhaps with a staff CPD group, a working party or a KS4 or 5 tutor group? We’ve clipped 10 minutes from a recent Cal Newport deep dive.

What are you getting here? Newport - Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, Washington - is going to talk us through how to learn hard things. He’s going to cover a lot of stuff we need students to hear, including - in chronological order:

  1. a model of learning that says ‘smart people can learn hard things but I can’t’ is totally wrong - we all have the capability

  2. ‘time invested’ determines what you learn, not brainpower

  3. learning happens level-by-level, moving slowly up imaginary stairs, each one representing the next proximal zone of your developing understanding

  4. deliberate practice is how this happens, frameworked and supported by the education process. Teachers provide expert help, alongside books, online courses, and so on

  5. is all this work worth it? Newport argues yes, it is! It’s good stuff.

Something we're reading...

We hear so many passive students telling us about their aspirations whilst simultaneously taking no action. These are all real examples:

  • An aspiring filmmaker who, despite having an iphone video camera on their person at all times, has never tried making a movie.

  • The guy who claims to want to make a living trading bitcoin, but hasn’t even saved up the few quid needed invest in an app.

  • The student who wants to be a professional footballer, but at sixteen, and living in a city-region of nearly 3 million people, claims to have not yet found a team to play for.

  • The student applying to English with Creative Writing panicking because they have nothing - not one thing - in their portfolio of work.

It all recalls a famous Seth Godin post. Here’s a neat quote from it:

“It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you… then you can actually get to work.

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”

We love that. And we’re always trying to think of new ways to encourage students to pick themselves. We recently stumbled across this brief entry on Austin Kleon’s site. It’s gold.

Portal Talk…

Creative Teachers Wanted!

We are currently looking for creative teachers to help develop our new slides. If you are interested you should be familiar with the VESPA model, and will be confident creating engaging and creative Slide Decks, similar to those we have been sharing recently. The work will be on a freelance basis and you will be paid per deck you create. The decks will be created in so some knowledge of this / or html would be useful, but certainly not essential.

If you are interested please email - [email protected] and we will get back to you.

Our latest offer...

‘Building Student Aspiration’ is our latest free webinar. It’s a session suitable for KS4 or 5 staff that explores how we can use tutorials/lessons to encourage students’ future-thinking, future-readiness, university aspiration and cultural capital. There’ll be practical ideas you can use straight away in class or assembly.

We keep these small so we can open up for questions and discussion. Here are the details:

Building Student Aspiration: Monday 12th February, 3:40-4:40pm, Zoom

If you want the link, email [email protected] and we’ll send it through. We won’t be recording the session, but we will likely run it twice.

All the best to you and yours,

Martin, Steve and Tony

p.s. this twelve-minute video’s been watched and re-watched over the last three months - heading up to 2 million views.

A 33-year old woman very openly and honestly discussing how she totally lost direction, couldn’t get jobs, and kept waiting to be picked. She’s never really figured out what she wants, she accepts she was “an OK student”, she’s had knock-back after knock-back and she’s finally decided to stop waiting and take action. It’s a little sad… but at last she’s doing something. It’s an interesting watch, and maybe a wake-up call for passive students.