Friday Mindset #118

Helping students get better at studenting

It’s Friday!

And even better, there’s sunshine and blossom. Look, there - it’s just visible through the hail and snow😬 

Resist the temptation to get out there and revel in the glories of nature for just a few minutes, though - we’ve got stuff to share first.

Let’s dive in.

Something to try...

Solving study problems is often a huge focus for us at this time of year. We have loads of ways to encourage learners to problem-solve. Some we shared in The GCSE Mindset, others we’ve reserved for The VESPA Handbook (two of our favourites in fact - attitude activities called 5,5,5 and O.D.A.)

Here’s another one. This works really nicely as a tutorial or class activity.

First, help the student clearly define their study problem. Help them remove judgement and emotion. We don’t want “I’m lazy and doomed to fail,” we want “I’m working for 2-3 hours a week, and I need to be doing 10 hours, with a focus on the following subjects...”

The more detailed and specific the student can be, the better, so ask them to add more detail and description until you have a fully-rounded problem.

OK. Now move on to the resource. It’s Scott Young’s Twenty Five Useful Thinking Tools. In this article, Young argues that by adopting the mindset of a particular professional - teacher, scientist, soldier, designer - we can see problems in fresh ways, and develop better solutions.

Ask students to review all 25, then choose 1, 2 or 3 that will inspire a solution to their problem. Combine them or use them in sequence. They have to write down the solution they develop as a result… and make a commitment to put it into action.

We’ve enjoyed using this as a tutorial activity - give it a try.

Something we're reading...

This post needs sharing. What a tutorial session it’s going to make - we’re really looking forward to reading it with key stage 4 and 5 groups. You might have caught a recent survey that shows a shocking ranking for the UK’s level of mental health, wellbeing and happiness.

If so, we’d forgive you for being sceptical that group-reading an article called The World is Awful might help. But this piece does. It’s a fascinating examination of how perspectives need to change if we’re to feel things can improve. This would be part of our curriculum of hope - a term we’ve been using increasingly amongst ourselves to describe the kind of energising good-news stories we want to share with our students.

We want less helplessness, greater degrees of efficacy, and an internal locus of control. And we think articles like this really help.

We were pretty impressed with the rest of the website too - have a dig through if you get a mo.

Our latest offer...

It’s book giveaway time!

We’ve been buying and reading guide after guide about successful study at university. We’re trying to find a good one - a short, pithy, effective book which we can give to year 13 students in the autumn term as they put their UCAS applications together.

We haven’t found one yet. That’s not to say all we’ve bought and read so far are bad books - each of them have a least something to recommend them. But the search goes on. In the meantime, we’re going to be giving our mini-collection away to you guys. You can dish them out to your own year 13s as little prizes! This week, it’s Dan Marshall’s Student Hacks.

If you fancy it, all you have to do is be the first to email us at [email protected] with your work address, and we’ll post it out to you.

If you’re reading this and it’s before 4pm… you could be in with a chance. Get in touch!

And that’s it for this week folks. Get out there amongst the petals… All the best to you and yours,

Martin, Steve and Tony


This is pretty good on retrieval practice prompts: