Friday Mindset #124

Helping students get better at studenting

Happy Friday, wonderful people.

We’re now well into June and here in Manchester we’ve been enjoying temperatures up to and sometimes including 14 degrees. So we won’t keep you long - you’ll be wanting to grab a fleece-lined jacket, put on an extra pair of socks and get some rainbathing in.

Before you do, though, here’s some stuff we have to share!

Let’s dive in…

Something to try...

We’re writing this bit on a train as we head to an event at Sky Studios, Elstree. School and college careers advisors are gathering to hear from industry experts about the opportunities students have to get into film and television, and we’re finishing the day with a session about encouraging students to be more proactive. The plan is, that careers staff can share the exciting developments they’ve seen in the film and TV space, but also give students some concrete tools for increasing their initiative, their goal-setting and their get-up-and-go.

The slides that follow were going to be a small section of our presentation; the bit where we explore the notion of ‘waiting to be picked’. But we only had an hour, so we cut them.

So here they are for you! We reckon we’ve expressed the ‘pick yourself’ idea better than we ever have - via the wonderful Seth Godin of course - in the examples that follow.

If the presentation looks confusingly plain at first glance, it’s because there are embedded audio files - so you’ll need to download the session and run it through to hear the stories told.

Have fun!

Something we're reading...

A paper about habit formation caught our eye last week because it has a specific section about breaking bad habits, and we think it could be applicable to students. Its writers - a team from the University of Surrey, with contributions from Queensland and Amsterdam - use this image to explore four ways to break bad habits:

Four ways to break bad habits

The first idea on the left, is to avoid or change the ‘cues.’ We’ve gone big on this (and we’ve given away a powerpoint about Environment Design before… let us know if you’d like a copy.)

But the study goes on to suggest three further ways - keeping the cue but generating a new habit (breaking into a jog past the fast-food place instead of going in,) reducing accessibility (ensuring you don’t have any more biscuits lying around your office) or habit inhibition (making a personal commitment to changing, and using that willpower to motivate new behaviour.)

You can read the whole study if you’ve got time, but for the ideas above scroll three-quarters of the way down to section 5, ‘HOW HABIT DISRUPTION CAN—AND CANNOT—CHANGE LONG-TERM BEHAVIOUR’.

Our latest offer...

In February we ran a free one-hour webinar called ‘Building Student Aspiration’ - a session suitable for KS4 or 5 staff that explored how we can use tutorials/lessons to encourage students’ future-thinking, future-readiness, university aspiration and cultural capital.

And we promised we’d repeat it for those who couldn’t attend, and we’re doing so next week. Here are the details of the repeat session:

Building Student Aspiration: Thursday 20th June, 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, so this is your last chance.

All the best to you and yours,

Martin, Steve and Tony


In The VESPA Handbook, we write about ‘be’ goals - goals that passively imagine existing as something (‘I want to be a doctor’) versus ‘do’ goals - goals that emphasise action, engagement and purpose (‘I want to work in healthcare, developing new ways of supporting patients through difficult times’) Do goals inspire greater commitment than be goals.

As is the way with these things sometimes, we thought this was our idea. But it seems the always-inspiring theoretical physicist Richard Feynman got there before us:

 “Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do.”

— Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics