BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
So have you kept your new year’s resolution? Did you even make one? Most people make them but very few actually keep them. Typically we say that we will exercise more, eat less, drink less, read more, work harder etc. I would hazard a guess that we have all tried to promise ourselves this and failed many times, I know I have! Why do we fail?
In Charles Duhigg’s book 'The Power of Habit', he explains how we get into bad habits in the first place. He explains that there is a cue, a routine and a reward. So for example at around 3pm, I become a bit peckish and so the cue is my rumbling stomach. I look in my secret drawer and notice my Mark’s and Spencer’s Viennese chocolate biscuits. I eat one, then two. It is my routine. My reward is the rich, soft, velvety taste explosion in my mouth! So a very bad habit forms! Duhigg argues that to break that cycle you need to analyse the cue. Am I really hungry or am I just needing a break, maybe a bit bored? So to break the routine I go for a walk or drop by and chat with someone or step into a lesson? My reward then becomes that I have taken a break, relieved my boredom and kept the inches off my waistline! So the key is to try and alter the routine to create a bad habit into a good habit! So Duhigg talks about the power of creating positive habits. The piece in the book which I found most compelling was his explanation of Michael Phelps winning the 200 metres gold medal in the Beijing Olympics - inspiring and a tribute to the power of creating good habits.
So resolutions rest with us. We can blame external factors like the weather, our friends, our parents, but essentially it is down to us. We have to want to change and put things in place to make it happen. Setting big goals is not usually productive - we set ourselves up for failure and that leads to disappointment. Make the goals small and achievable and see that we monitor the goals carefully. It is important to focus on the tasks needed in order to achieve the goal rather than the outcome. If you set a massive goal, you have to break it down and be prepared to work hard for the goal. As parents and teachers, we have to teach that persistence and patience are important.
Another important aspect is also to recognise the value of failure. Success is littered with obstacles on the way. Many of the greatest innovators, inventors, artists, scientists failed many many times. As long as we learn from the experience we are going to make progress. John Dewy said, ‘We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.’ Be aware that, as the year moves on, it is full of wins and losses; it is how we react to these situations that truly marks us out as achieving our goals. What good ideas do you, as parents and students, have for achieving our goals? Do you always fail to keep your resolutions? Do you learn from your failure? How?
On another topic, I could not let the events in France pass by without some comment. This is what I wrote to the teachers the morning of the attacks:
I felt moved to write a couple of lines having watched the news overnight. I am sure that we all felt saddened and appalled by the events that unfolded in Paris yesterday afternoon/evening. On a human level it really is a terrible and unjustifiable act and does inspire deep emotions of shock, dismay and on some levels outright anger. However, the events really bring into focus that we all work in an international school. As educators we need to ensure that the students that leave us understand complex world issues, are tolerant and thoughtful in the way they deal with people, but above all, in a civilised society, there are some absolutes that must be upheld. The freedoms of expression, speech cannot be assassinated in the streets and that we all have a responsibility to make sure that the students over whom we have responsibility