me kay cooke

Revolting Revision

 

This is the time of year when I’m inundated with ‘emergency’ emails and phone calls from parents whose children are not buckling down to do their revision.

 

In response to have penned this plea:

 

Dear Anxious Parents,

Beware berating your children’s lack of adequate revision, no matter how well intentioned you are. Your anxiety can be like holding a match to a gas leak.

 

Please think carefully about the stress you are generating inside your teenagers brain. Stress (no matter how well intentioned) prepares the body to fight or flight and therefore diverts resources towards bodily readiness, and away from mind readiness.

 

Sure, as good parents, you may feel stressed, and fearful, and want the best for your child. But the truth is revision is about ‘accessing’ knowledge, not learning anew. And one major barrier to accessing knowledge is a brain primed for fight or flight – therefore ‘survival’.

 

WE DO NOT WANT OUR BRAINS IN SURVIVAL MODE DURING LEARNING, REVISION, OR EXAMS.

 

NO! We want our brains to be calm, alert, buoyant, creative, and in THRIVE mode, which means your child’s primitive brain feels safe, secure and has basic needs met, such as hydration, nutrition, shelter, warmth, love, touch, movement, clarity of purpose. These are foundational.

 

WHAT THEY EAT AND DRINK AND DO IS IMPORTANT, AS IS HUMAN TOUCH (HUGS ARE BEST).

 

And train yourselves parents!

Look up the ‘Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect’ (1), which demonstrates how the expectations of a significant adult can have a substantial effect on students’ scholastic performance. What you believe of your teenagers will have a profound influence on their self-belief.

 

DROP YOUR FEARS, CHECK YOUR BELIEFS, AND COMMUNICATE WITH LANGUAGE THAT PRESUPPOSES YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS.

unrealised potential
unrealised potential

Understand that your child will be best motivated from the inside, not the outside. So make sure what you say connects to some internal value like good feeling, pride, next step towards job success …

 

Check out the ‘Over Justification’ experiment (2) where groups of children were given colourful art supplies. Some of the children were told they’d be rewarded for using them; others were left to their own devices. What they concluded in this study, was the children who were not rewarded were far more motivated to use the art supplies again and again and produced better quality products.

 

WHEN AN ACTIVITY IS ENJOYABLE AND SATISFYING THERE IS GREAT SELF-MOTIVATION (INTERNAL) – MUCH MORE THAN RECEIVING REWARDS FROM OTHER PEOPLE (EXTERNAL).

 

So please, dear anxious parents, beware the berating of your children’s lack of adequate revision, no matter how well intentioned you are.

 

 

References:

(1) Rosenthal, R., &. Jacobson, L. (1963). Teachers’ expectancies: Determinants of pupils’ IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.

 

(2) : Lepper, M. P., & Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E., Undermining children’s Intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. JPSP, 1973, 28, 129-137.

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