How to build a neurotic, clapped out bully by the age of 21

30 Oct

Anyone planning to work an educational philosophy on my children that includes tgrdaplus.jpgeaching them that winners win by targetting “others self-confidence” will have to do so over my cold, dead body.

If you have spent so much as one sleepless night worried to the depths of your soul about where to even begin rebuilding the self-confidence of a bullied child then you will understand when I say that my blood ran cold about half way through this description of the Winning Game project.

I wish for all my children to achieve to their full potential, without trampling on anyone else en route. But then it has always been my aim to raise socially aware achievers as opposed to winners by this definition. As far as I am concerned any child who achieves or exceeds their goals is a winner, and they can most certainly do so without the need capitalise on the weakness of others. Don’t miscontrue this as supporting pathetic US style platitudes that we are all “winners”, we are all “special”. Oh no, I’m all for the constructive recognition of failure. I’m just not for a return to the dark ages of elevating “winning” above all else. I do not want my children coached in any method akin to that employed by

“professional athletes, fighter pilots, and other high pressure, success-oriented occupations”

because I do not want to raise children who measure success in this way. Winning isn’t simply about beating others, but if you consider the professions mentioned above then you’d be forgiven for thinking that winning is only about beating others.

It’s karma that this event was held at Perth High School really. Another couple of facing pages from October 26th’s Perthshire Advertiser covered two school excursions. The first I would describe as a “trade expedition”. A group of senior pupils from Perth High School are travelling to Shanghai, China, along with representatives from the Scottish Executive. Staying in a 5* hotel, they will meet with trade movers and shakers in the vast, emerging Chinese markets, forging both work experience and business links. The second story covered the World Challenge excursion to South Africa undertaken by senior pupils from Perth Academy. During 4 weeks of their summer holidays, and after some serious months of fundraising, they travelled to a South African village to build a classroom. Both excursions offer life changing opportunities. I am sure all the schools in Perth offer their senior pupils a whole range of opportunities both charitable and commercially oriented and the whole bit in between. It was just a revelation seeing these two starkly constrasting stories on facing pages in the same newspaper. Reading them together made me realise not only the excursion I would have chosen, but the one I hope my children would choose given these two opportunities.

I do wonder how much time teachers waste hunting down these new initiatives and methodologies. Cynical old me also wonders how much of it is done simply so they can jump on the passing bandwagon in the hope it will become the next “big thing” and they will be in there at the start.

This “Winning Game” is one I hope to see sink without a trace.


6 Responses to “How to build a neurotic, clapped out bully by the age of 21”

  1. Derek Robertson October 30, 2007 at 2:21 pm #

    I find it disappointing to read that you would think anyone in education would promote or give time to such an ethos, as you see it. It is unfortunate that you have chosen to publish your ‘cynical’ view of a project that is barely in its infancy without really knowing a great deal about it…

    The reason that we are interested in this project is that we felt that there were clear links with the Aifl agenda in some of the theory that underpins the game design. We wish to explore this and to see IF IT CAN support teaching and learning in our classrooms.

    The Wining Theory has clear links to the world of sport and in competitive sport, strategies that keep the pressure on your opponent and that target their weaknesses are valid strategies. They are not, I repeat, not, a part of the ethos that we hope to promote through the use of this game. The whole ethos underpinning the game is about being the best that you can be and schools attempting to continue to build a culture that focuses on self-improvement and success. What is your issue with this?

    I feel that education should be about being give time to try out new ideas and approaches that may come from a leftfield. Ideas that need to be developed and have so far only been summarised in an enthusiastic blogpost. I hope that new ideas are given a chance to breathe and grow before they can be cut off at the knees.

  2. MrsW October 31, 2007 at 2:09 pm #

    As well as living with a teacher I have been to 30 parent’s evenings and several meetings with the local primary’s SMT, I am well over educators telling me that I really don’t know a great deal about anything I care to raise with them.

    You may feel that education should be about taking “time to try out new ideas and approaches” but forgive me as a parent for having a more urgent relationship with education… I can’t exactly bung the kids into suspended animation tanks (no matter how often I wish it) until an educational philosophy I agree with wanders along in it own good time. I have to work with current provisions and I am certainly not going to like or agree with them all.

    You seem to be suggesting that I shouldn’t comment on this winning game/gbl project as it’s not finished yet and I’ve only read a summary. Maybe you could tell me a bit more about “the game”? Or I suppose I could just do the usual and wait until it’s implemented. I’m almost certain that any concerns I have will be more valid at that time (lol and ouch my face cracked). Noooo – it would be like almost everything else in education, too late and nothing to do with parents anyway.

    Oh yes, I have my cynical hat on today too, after 9 years of being a parent of formally educated children I think it’s fused with my skull. 9 years of frustration needs venting…. stand back.. I’ve spawned at least half a dozen posts from this reply alone :o)

  3. Anonymous November 1, 2007 at 9:56 am #

    It is slightly too early to be talking about the game and its content, but I would say that if you would like a more “balanced” view of Yehuda Shinar’s theory of what makes a winner, and how this can provide significant benefits to the Scottish Education system, I would highly recommend getting hold of a copy of his book on Amazon:

    In the book you will find a great deal of information about what Yehuda refers to as the “Noble Warrior” – that is someone that does everything they can to maximise their own personal potential WITHOUT TRAMPLING ON OTHERS TO GET WHAT THEY WANT. The book also clearly transcends beyond competitive sport and clearly shows how the theory can be applied to other areas in life, such as education.

  4. MrsW November 1, 2007 at 2:56 pm #

    Thank you kind stranger… I’ll maybe wait for the paperback.. I’m very sceptical of life coaches on the whole but may be prepared to waste a fiver so I can parry accusations of not knowing what I’m talking about with a few choice quotations. On the anecdotal evidence of the one and only reviewer on Amazon who has read the book and finds “the fixation with winners… a bit wearing” I’m guessing my first impressions aren’t too far off the mark! Incidentally if anyone fees like invitiing Paul McKenna along to any education strategy meetings make sure they’re at our school so I can gatecrash … I could do with losing a few stone.

  5. Ewan McIntosh November 2, 2007 at 10:02 am #

    I read the same list and the same thing jumped out at me, but it’s not one of the values of Scottish education and not one the national education agency would seek to condone. It’s not easy, either, to know that there is further reading out there on the theory behind the game, nor is it necessarily something that every teacher, let alone parent, has time or inclination to go and seek out and read.

    That’s why there are people like myself researching and trying to build on the shoulders of educational giants, improving what is there already and making it more engaging or relevant to our children, without dumbing down the educational gains. Where, in the past two years, I’ve not seen any significant increase in attainment (which normally comes with more desire to learn, motivation, engagement) then I’ve been amongst the loudest to say so. Likewise, where new technologies, new ‘bandwagons’ do actually offer an improvement I aim to spread the word about those as quickly as possible.

    Those of us who work intensively in this innovation sector are those who build on education theory that has been built up over at least thirty years. Our work is highly reliable thanks to the fact we spend our days doing this. That also explains why we are often the first in the world in Scotland to see educational improvement thanks to these tools.

    One of the things I have worked on is how people write for an audience. The main mistake people make when they start writing on a blog is that what might feel like a personal note to no-one in particular is going out to real people, the very people at whom a personal attack is being angled. This is what you are doing. It’s done not as an argument in the academic sense, and it’s done without any apparent inclination to learn oneself. As the Guardian’s founder said: “Comment is free, facts are sacred”.

    I look forward to seeing more parents, teachers and students sharing their views online – your point raises a valid concern. But I look forward to them doing it in what is a healthy debate, a healthy online community, in which we must all play by the unwritten rules of courtesy or, at the very least, with the desire to learn.

  6. MrsW November 2, 2007 at 5:40 pm #

    Way to spoil a perfectly good Friday. I’m going to be rude here Mr McIntosh as I find your castigations for misperceived personal attacks whilst doing exactly that to me immature, hypocritical and patronising.

    I fail to see how my opinion on an educational philosophy can be construed as a personal attack but I think Mr Shinar and his lucrative theories will survive one parent in rural Scotland’s scepticism. I don’t respond well to condescension and frankly when I want a mark out of 10 for formulating an academic argument I will present material to my university tutor.

    I am not about to join in any jolly back-slapping aren’t we just the dogs bollocks kiss mine and I’ll kiss yours “quasi-debate” for I am a parent and I know as sure as bears shit in the woods that my opinions on anything to do with educating my children count for absolutely nothing. You’ve read the sum total of around 1500 words of mine and already you have decided I am unfit to write for an audience, ticked me off for a personal attack I haven’t made, accused me of being unable to build an academic argument and decided I am unwilling to learn. Well I aint 15 mate and you aint marking this, if you don’t like… well I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what you can do.

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