Tree of Knowledge

This is the second of two posts about a recent visit to our school by Tony from Tree of Knowledge. The first post is over on my other blogging platform: https://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/FcqVaRp012

I wrote the notes below for staff at my school in our weekly bulletin.

Friday thoughts
As you know, I was incredibly privileged to be able to sit in on the workshops with Tree of Knowledge last week.
As I said last week, I thought that it would be useful for you to know the key messages as I would like to see us re-inforcing them. Inputs from external providers only really have impact when they are integrated in the work of a school. I think that there is a real power in being able to make connections between the different learning experiences that pupils have.

S3
In this session, Tony talked about Mindset and drew on the ideas of Carol Dweck.
More information can be found here: http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/

He talked about our zones; our comfort zone where we are happy and relaxed. It is a great place to be but if we only stay there we will get bored. Our stretch zone lies outside of this which is where we still feel able to do things but are pushing ourselves to the limit of our ability.
Then we have the panic zone where we are unable to do the things we need to do because we have not got the time or capacity to do it.
He exemplified:
• We are in comfort zone when we have an essay due in 6 weeks
• We are in stretch zone when we are pushing ourselves do get an essay done for next week.
• We are in panic zone when the essay is due tomorrow and we have done nothing.

He explained that, if we start early and plan properly, our comfort and stretch zones increase so we can achieve more and we have less panic.
He used Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example.
Arnie was a weakling and bullied at school and decided to become a bodybuilder; he pushed himself to become world champion. He moved out of his comfort zone into his stretch zone but this then became comfort. He decided to go into acting. He was never a great actor but he specialised in certain roles and pushed himself to become one of the highest paid actors in the world. This then became comfort so he pushed himself to go into politics and become the governor of California. He is an excellent example of a self-motivated self-starter who pushed himself to keep achieving more.
Carol Dweck has done 30 years of research into Mindset and has identified 2 types of Minds – Fixed and Growth.
Tony asked three questions and asked pupils whether their instinctive answer would be ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
• Do you believe successful people are born that way?
• Do you believe that you can only ever improve slightly?
• Is it ok to cheat to get things?
He said that if your answer is “yes” to the questions then you have a FIXED Mindset. If the answer is “no”, you have a GROWTH Mindset.
Dweck’s research has shown that most successful people have a Growth Mindset.
We may often have a fixed mindset when faced with a new challenge
If we say “that is impossible” we have an excuse not to try. With growth mindset, we embrace the challenge. We find the best way possible to solve a problem.
If some people are asked to try, they will say “Why? It’s pointless”. We tend to want instant gratification. However, real success comes from embracing challenges, persisting, putting in effort over time and succeeding.
We need to be able to solve problems as humans or we are part of the problem.
Effort is the distance between where I am now and where I want to get to.
Some people don’t put in effort and blame others when they don’t get where they want to get to (school, parents, friends.) This is a blame culture.
Tony explained that it can be frustrating when people succeed around us. At school, he was the best (and only) guitar player. He went on a summer camp and met Matthew MacAllister who was AMAZING and so he just gave up. Matthew maybe had more natural talent BUT he also put in 5 hours of practice a day.
Tony set the pupils a challenge:
If you meet a new challenge, give it a genuine try. See it as a pathway.
We all have different ideas of success – money/house/job.
See effort as a pathway to success but do not get jealous of others.
Admit how you are right now but admit that you can change it. The minute you say “this is nonsense and not for me”, you are giving in to a fixed mindset.
Matthew Brailsford helped turn around British cycling and he did it one step at a time – small incremental changes, eg:
• All in the team started careful handwashing which reduce illness and time off.
• The inside of bike vans were painted white to show dirt – they could be kept cleaner and less bike repairs were needed.
• All the team members got new pillows so they slept better and performed better.
1% at a time will lead to 100% improvement.
What will your 1% be? Less screen time? 5 minutes of study.
Just decide to start.
Tony was so inspiring and the pupils were incredibly positive in their feedback.
 

 

 

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Four countries.

I am in a hotel for a conference. I am going to be discussing the future of Britain’s education with some incredible minds.
I am scared and my chimps are going mad.
I am on the exercise bike in the gym trying to get focussed.

In order to focus, I am going to remind myself of what I believe about education.

You should only teach if you care that every child in your school is loveable and can succeed. If you only want to teach middle or upper class children, avoid comprehensive education.
Teachers have the power to impact on the lives of children and therefore on the future. This is a massive privilege and responsibility.
This should be made clear in initial teacher training.

Teachers are very, very, very important and needed to be treated as such.

Parents and carers are very, very, very important and need to be treated as such. All of them.

Teachers who are not doing a good enough job in helping every child to learn need to be supported to do a good enough job.

Parents who are not doing a good enough job in helping every child to learn need to be supported to do a good enough job. Schools can play a big part here.

School leaders need to be prepared to work very hard, talk the talk and walk the walk. The 35 hour week does not apply.

Every teacher needs to be highly informed about the purpose of education, child development, attachment, adverse childhood experiences, mindset and nurture.

The job of a school is to help a child learn about the world and to help them find their place in the world.

The purpose of secondary education is to help children become adults who make the most of life and make sensible choices. The teenage years are incredibly complex and exciting and we need to understand the related psychological and neuroscientific fields.

We all need to keep learning and reflecting. Self awareness in teachers is crucial.

Political decisions about education should never be made by people who have not been successful teachers or educators.

Decisions about education must be based on evidence based practice and never a knee-jerk.

A long-term view is crucial.

Inclusion is not one experience…or maybe not even one environment …fits all.

Assessment. Hmmmm. We must measure what we value and not value what we can measure. Some important things cannot be assessed easily.

The community should be at the heart of a school and the school should be at the heart of a community. Governance structures should be arranged accordingly.

Education should be at the heart of society and society should be at the heart of education.
Soundbites? Maybe. Nothing much new. But what I believe.
What do I know…?