When I went to school, homework did not take long. We did not have any subjects concerning life skills, which there are plenty of now. When I worked one year as a psychologist in the school system I was flabbergasted by how different school was today. When children are having their break they often watched educational videos on a big screens, and at lunch break games often were organized so that everybody could join in. Challenged kids with emotional issues often got an extra focus, and in class there were often discussion about social situation to help children develop empathy and problem solving. I liked this, that school was no longer just about facts. But, no system is flawless, and I want to highlight some issues with school in Norway today.
My partner has two children, who come home from school every day with lots of homework. I get that it’s important to teach children as much as possible, but time is precious and I know that they feel stressed by the share amount of what they must do, like many others in their class. Pupils report that they feel stressed by everything they have to do at schools. Teaching them life skills in addition to maths, reading, spelling and so on, also leads to pressure; There are even more things children must learn and understand. This pressure ironically makes it even harder to problem solve, since stress inhibits our ability to think outside the box and be creative. Creativity is stifled by rules, so introducing even more of our way of seeing things, can actually have a negative effect on preparing children for adulthood.
Now I’m curious; how is school organized in other countries and do you have any thoughts on the subject?
One year ago, I moved to Bergen to work with children with learning disabilities. This was quite different from what I had been working on until then: Treating patients. I had to work with children for one year to finish my requirements to become a clinical psychologist, and now I am finally here. 6 years has already passed since I started working, and I almost can`t believe it. I still remember my months as a psychologist: Feeling nervous, not ready to help people. I was after all, just one woman. I had my training, like all psychologist, but had never actually worked clinically. Now I had real people sitting in a chair, telling me things they had not told anyone. And how on earth was I supposed to help them? After some time, I was not nervous anymore. Hearing people talk about their fears, opening up when they felt there was so much to loose, felt like a privilege. I understood that my fear was nothing compared to what some of my patients had gone through. It was impossible to think about myself while I listened to their stories. I discovered that I had the best job in the world. Sitting there, talking about what really matters with truly magnificent people, made every day meaningful.
The last year has not been the same. Instead of clinical work, I have written reports where I have to figure out of the children get what they need at school. I have observed teachers, talked with worried parents, and tested children with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. I have written referrals to psychologist so that the children can be diagnosed with AD/HD or anxiety. I have given advice on how teacher can help children with autism or different disabilities. Although I have learnt a lot, I have often felt that I am out of my depth. Writing reports has not been my forte either. It has been difficult to judge if one child needs special education or not. My knowledge about teaching, has not been sufficient. I have sat in meetings, not being able to contribute much.
There has also been interesting cases where I got the chance to be a psychologist again. When I had the chance to talk about traumatized children, and what adults should do, I have loved my work. Me and a woman I work with also had the chance to guide school personell on how to help a child with oppositional defiant disorder. We talked about how important it is to realize that all children would chose to follow the rules if they could. That some children never have the chance to learn how to regulate their emotions, that they try their best but sometimes need help from grown-ups to calm down.
I have also met a lot of wonderful people where I work now. They are kind and dedicated to helping children. I have talked with teachers who walks the extra mile, seen special educators help children with dyslexia and talked with parents who does everything for their children. But I still have not found my place. I have learnt a lot and know I have done important work, but I have also missed my previous work.
In March I will start in my new job. I will work with adults again. I will be a therapist. And hopefully, I will continue doing clinical work for the rest of my life.
To find what you love to do, is important. We can get interested in different things, but usually we need to devote our lives to something that really engages us.
We all know how important teachers are. We have met many of them, and some have managed to stay in our hearts. Some have broadened our minds, while others might have made us feel inferior. Since February I have been around in classrooms, having the honor to see how far teachers in Norway have come since I was a little girl, eager to learn. School today is not about rote repetition, it is about so much more: Learning life skills. It is also about learning HOW to learn, and awakening curiosity in eager minds. It is about helping children be kind towards each other and giving them positive feedback while also challenging them to think more deeply about issues. I have seen small tricks, like getting the children to clap their hands when the teacher does so, to make them stop and listen. I have seen teachers managing to remember who got to say something, and who did not. I have heard them talk about their worries, for example when a child keeps to himself. And their pride when somebody just learnt to read after trying for a long time. Teachers are amazing. They must be in the middle of thousand tasks, always caring and giving. They must engage the students, and encourage those who struggle to make sense of what they are supposed to learn. I only have respect for teachers. They really try their best to educate our future. And I know many of them go home, remembering the faces of children lighting up when they had yet another moment of mastery.
I am sitting in the sun, waiting for the teacher to let the children in. They are standing in a neat line, talking and laughing. In front of me, two boys are interacting while a third girl is holding what must be her brother in a tight grip. They are happy, not stressed by the no-show of their pregnant teacher. I have been observing two children in different classes today, and this is my third observation of the day. I try to observe without any pre-judgement, preferring to not ‘know’ what I should be looking for. What constantly amazes me, is how children interact. There is just so much going on. Emotions flying through the air like ping-pong balls.
The sun and their happiness is warming me while I wait. There is no hurry, life is just as it should be.
16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School
by HENRIK EDBERG
I am 28 now. I don’t think about the past or regret things much these days.
But sometimes I wish that I had known some of things I have learned over the last few years a bit earlier. That perhaps there had been a self-improvement class in school. And in some ways there probably was.
Because some of these 16 things in this article a teacher probably spoke about in class. But I forgot about them or didn’t pay attention.
Some of it would probably not have stuck in my mind anyway. Or just been too far outside my reality at the time for me to accept and use.
But I still think that taking a few hours from all those German language classes and use them for some personal development classes would have been a good idea. Perhaps for just an hour a week in high school. It would probably be useful for many students and on a larger scale quite helpful for society in general.
So here are 16 things I wish they had taught me in school (or I just would like to have known about earlier).
- The 80/20 rule.
This is one of the best ways to make better use of your time. The 80/20 rule – also known as The Pareto Principle – basically says that 80 percent of the value you will receive will come from 20 percent of your activities.
So a lot of what you do is probably not as useful or even necessary to do as you may think.
You can just drop – or vastly decrease the time you spend on – a whole bunch of things.
And if you do that you will have more time and energy to spend on those things that really brings your value, happiness, fulfilment and so on.
- Parkinson’s Law.
You can do things quicker than you think. This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it. For instance, if you say to yourself that you’ll come up with a solution within a week then the problem will seem to grow more difficult and you’ll spend more and more time trying to come up with a solution.
So focus your time on finding solutions. Then just give yourself an hour (instead of the whole day) or the day (instead of the whole week) to solve the problem. This will force your mind to focus on solutions and action.
The result may not be exactly as perfect as if you had spent a week on the task, but as mentioned in the previous point, 80 percent of the value will come from 20 percent of the activities anyway. Or you may wind up with a better result because you haven’t overcomplicated or overpolished things. This will help you to get things done faster, to improve your ability to focus and give you more free time where you can totally focus on what’s in front of you instead of having some looming task creating stress in the back of your mind.
Boring or routine tasks can create a lot of procrastination and low-level anxiety. One good way to get these things done quickly is to batch them. This means that you do them all in row. You will be able to do them quicker because there is less start-up time compared to if you spread them out. And when you are batching you become fully engaged in the tasks and more focused.
A batch of things to do in an hour today may look like this: Clean your desk / answer today’s emails / do the dishes / make three calls / write a grocery shopping list for tomorrow.
- First, give value. Then, get value. Not the other way around.
This is a bit of a counter-intuitive thing. There is often an idea that someone should give us something or do something for us before we give back. The problem is just that a lot of people think that way. And so far less than possible is given either way.
If you want to increase the value you receive (money, love, kindness, opportunities etc.) you have to increase the value you give. Because over time you pretty much get what you give. It would perhaps be nice to get something for nothing. But that seldom happens.
- Be proactive. Not reactive.
This one ties into the last point. If everyone is reactive then very little will get done. You could sit and wait and hope for someone else to do something. And that happens pretty often, but it can take a lot of time before it happens.
A more useful and beneficial way is to be proactive, to simply be the one to take the first practical action and get the ball rolling. This not only saves you a lot of waiting, but is also more pleasurable since you feel like you have the power over your life. Instead of feeling like you are run by a bunch of random outside forces.
- Mistakes and failures are good.
When you are young you just try things and fail until you learn. As you grow a bit older, you learn from – for example – school to not make mistakes. And you try less and less things.
This may cause you to stop being proactive and to fall into a habit of being reactive, of waiting for someone else to do something. I mean, what if you actually tried something and failed? Perhaps people would laugh at you?
Perhaps they would. But when you experience that you soon realize that it is seldom the end of the world. And a lot of the time people don’t care that much. They have their own challenges and lives to worry about.
And success in life often comes from not giving up despite mistakes and failure. It comes from being persistent.
When you first learn to ride your bike you may fall over and over. Bruise a knee and cry a bit. But you get up, brush yourself off and get on the saddle again. And eventually you learn how to ride a bike. If you can just reconnect to your 5 year old self and do things that way – instead of giving up after a try/failure or two as grown-ups often do -you would probably experience a lot more interesting things, learn valuable lessons and have quite a bit more success.
- Don’t beat yourself up.
Why do people give up after just few mistakes or failures? Well, I think one big reason is because they beat themselves up way too much. But it’s a kinda pointless habit. It only creates additional and unnecessary pain inside you and wastes your precious time. It’s best to try to drop this habit as much as you can.
- Assume rapport.
Meeting new people is fun. But it can also induce nervousness. We all want to make a good first impression and not get stuck in an awkward conversation.
The best way to do this that I have found so far is to assume rapport. This means that you simply pretend that you are meeting one of your best friends. Then you start the interaction in that frame of mind instead of the nervous one.
This works surprisingly well. You can read more about it in How to Have Less Awkward Conversations: Assuming Rapport.
- Use your reticular activation system to your advantage.
I learned about the organs and the inner workings of the body in class but nobody told me about the reticular activation system. And that’s a shame, because this is one of the most powerful things you can learn about. What this focus system, this R.A.S, in your mind does is to allow you to see in your surroundings what you focus your thoughts on. It pretty much always helps you to find what you are looking for.
So you really need to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. And keep that focus steady.
Setting goals and reviewing them frequently is one way to keep your focus on what’s important and to help you take action that will move your closer to toward where you want to go. Another way is just to use external reminderssuch as pieces of paper where you can, for instance, write down a few things from this post like “Give value” or “Assume rapport”. And then you can put those pieces of paper on your fridge, bathroom mirror etc.
- Your attitude changes your reality.
We have all heard that you should keep a positive attitude or perhaps that “you need to change your attitude!”. That is a nice piece of advice I suppose, but without any more reasons to do it is very easy to just brush such suggestions off and continue using your old attitude.
But the thing that I’ve discovered the last few years is that if you change your attitude, you actually change your reality. When you for instance use a positive attitude instead of a negative one you start to see things and viewpoints that were invisible to you before. You may think to yourself “why haven’t I thought about things this way before?”.
When you change your attitude you change what you focus on. And all things in your world can now be seen in a different light.
This is of course very similar to the previous tip but I wanted to give this one some space. Because changing your attitude can create an insane change in your world. It might not look like it if you just think about it though. Pessimism might seem like realism. But that is mostly because your R.A.S is tuned into seeing all the negative things you want to see. And that makes you “right” a lot of the time. And perhaps that is what you want. On the other hand, there are more fun things than being right all the time.
If you try changing your attitude for real – instead of analysing such a concept in your mind – you’ll be surprised.
You may want to read more about this topic in Take the Positivity Challenge!
- Gratitude is a simple way to make yourself feel happy.
Sure, I was probably told that I should be grateful. Perhaps because it was the right thing to do or just something I should do. But if someone had said that feeling grateful about things for minute or two is a great way to turn a negative mood into a happy one I would probably have practised gratitude more. It is also a good tool for keeping your attitude up and focusing on the right things. And to make other people happy. Which tends to make you even happier, since emotions are contagious.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
The ego wants to compare. It wants to find reasons for you to feel good about yourself (“I’ve got a new bike!”). But by doing that it also becomes very hard to not compare yourself to others who have more than you (“Oh no, Bill has bought an even nicer bike!”). And so you don’t feel so good about yourself once again. If you compare yourself to others you let the world around control how you feel about yourself. It always becomes a rollercoaster of emotions.
A more useful way is to compare yourself to yourself. To look at how far you have come, what you have accomplished and how you have grown. It may not sound like that much fun but in the long run it brings a lot more inner stillness, personal power and positive feelings.
- 80-90% of what you fear will happen never really come into reality.
This is a big one. Most things you fear will happen never happen. They are just monsters in your own mind. And if they happen then they will most often not be as painful or bad as you expected. Worrying is most often just a waste of time.
This is of course easy to say. But if you remind yourself of how little of what you feared throughout your life that has actually happened you can start to release more and more of that worry from your thoughts.
- Don’t take things too seriously.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in things. But most of the things you worry about never come into reality. And what may seem like a big problem right now you may not even remember in three years.
Taking yourself, your thoughts and your emotions too seriously often just seems to lead to more unnecessary suffering. So relax a little more and lighten up a bit. It can do wonders for your mood and as an extension of that; your life.
- Write everything down.
If your memory is anything like mine then it’s like a leaking bucket. Many of your good or great ideas may be lost forever if you don’t make a habit of writing things down. This is also a good way to keep your focus on what you want. Read more about it in Why You Should Write Things Down.
- There are opportunities in just about every experience.
In pretty much any experience there are always things that you can learn from it and things within the experience that can help you to grow. Negative experiences, mistakes and failure can sometimes be even better than a success because it teaches you something totally new, something that another success could never teach you.
Whenever you have a “negative experience” ask yourself: where is the opportunity in this? What is good about this situation? One negative experience can – with time – help you create many very positive experiences.
What do you wish someone had told you in school or you had just learned earlier in life?
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Yesterday I was at a school to talk with teachers and watch some students with learning disabilities. While waiting for my first meeting, two employees sat talking about a school-event they had been on the day before. It was an event for parents, students and teachers where they talked about eastern and religion. When there, one of the teachers started to say that Jesus was still alive! In addition to that, they told me it felt like she was preaching. While I listened, I automatically started to validate their feelings of annoyance. But after a while, I realized that I was actually participating in something I rather not be involved in: Judging a person I did not even know based on hearsay. After realizing this, I did manage to ask what they thought was the reason for her behavior.
Afterwards I was observing a child with behavioral problems. I could see how his class-mates responded when he was close. They automatically drew back a little, and he ended up sitting alone. The only time he got some attention was when he was angry, or when he was making jokes about something or someone.
Afterwards, we had a meeting to discuss what I just had seen and the teacher told me about another meeting they just had. The meeting was about children with behavioral problems, and she told me how touched she was when she heard other teachers talking about what they recently had learned on a course: That there are no “problem” children. There is just a person, struggling to adjust and be happy.
We so easily categorize things as good or bad, and everything becomes black or white. Luckily we stop every now and then and realize that we must try to adjust what we think. To see all sides of the equations. But that is not enough. We must be able to speak our minds, when we see that something is one-sided or biased. This is really difficult, though. Right now I am motivated to be able to transfer what the teacher told me, to different schools. But I have been at schools where frustration takes hold, and the teachers rather just want us psychologist to fix the problem. I just hope I am brave enough to speak my mind and not fall into the black-or-white trap.
Right now I am struggling to adjust. A new job means thousand small differences that all must be brought together in a new way. My room-mate told me: the people who manage to survive, are those who are able to adapt. Some of the differences I have to adjust to, is more tasks of a different kind. I also must learn to work with children and the system, instead of long-term therapy with traumatized adults. I must learn to remember more practical information, like when the children got extra help in class and which subjects they like and dislike. I must learn to use different types of questionnaires and tests and focus on school instead of how they suffer psychologically. This also mean that I must put aside time to reflect and rest my head, like I do when I write. Instead of rushing from one task to another, making mistakes along the way as I forget things, I must take a breath and ask myself questions: what did I just learn? How can I remember the phone call I will have to take? How did it feel to feel a bit stupid since I couldn’t answer a question about what a dyslexic child needs?
By giving myself time, I am able to enjoy what I’m doing. I can appreciate the newness of it all by realizing that this is a chance to broaden my knowledge-base and understand even more about the complexity of our minds. Learning new things can be so frustrating, but the reward when we finally get where we wished we were from the begin with, is even higher since we had to struggle a bit with it. And the best of all: by being mindful about the process I’m going through, I’m more able to understand how it must be for children with different cognitive disadvantages to learn something new.
The Manifest of a Shallow Person
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a metaphorical phrase that has learned since from grade school. You shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone. However, why there are people speak their mind and don’t care no matter what if it’ll rip-out the heart of others?
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. There’s nothing wrong with being shallow as long as you’re insightful about it. It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.
Only shallow person know themselves but mostly shallow people end-up nothing. But think about it; shallow people have it so much better because they don’t understand the same things we feel so it doesn’t affect them even how awful feeling it is.
During my teenage years; I was tired of pretending that I was someone else just to get along with my classmates, just for the sake of having friendships, not to be bullied but to bully.
When learning the rope of being with them, I thought I was trapped in a cage and I can’t handle it in their way. I was lying to myself but still I know I would always learn from my mistakes. I learned that when am surrounded with them I find myself judging others – I didn’t consider that the inside is what counts!
But after all I did, I reap confidence away from it which I used it to fight them back whenever we’ve faced into trouble. Being brave is not enough not to be bullied but being confident to pretend being brave is great ammo to defeat the enemy and win the war.
If a person cannot understand the beauty of life, it is probably because life never understood the beauty in them and don’t judge the past by the standards of today because it won’t work – they’re incompatible.
The world only goes around by misunderstanding. Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.
Think twice before you speak!