Presentation on theme: "Building self-worth through guided visualisation: unique work with disturbed pupils Dr. Stephen Bigger University of Worcester Paper: www.worc.ac.uk/departments/5221.html."— Presentation transcript:
Building self-worth through guided visualisation: unique work with disturbed pupils Dr. Stephen Bigger University of Worcester Paper: www.worc.ac.uk/departments/5221.html Key publications/New
Outline To evaluate a project with disengaged young people To explore processes of personal development To investigate ‘emotional intelligence’ and ‘spiritual education’
Context A ten year project In comprehensives and primary schools within Excellence in Cities funding involving Learning Mentors and teachers now engaging with whole primary classes
Six Principles We all have inner qualities, or ‘gems’ We all have the potential to do good, or to do harm (dual nature) Positive speech has power to transform We have the potential to transform our lives, whatever our histories Positive action: the community is more united if people work together We need, and can be, positive role models.
Description The Tranquility Zone (TZ): involving disengaged teenage pupils in personal guided imaginary mental journey. It takes place in a special ambient atmosphere (see pictures) with candles or lights, quiet music and pleasant scents. The Discovery Zone (DZ): a period of subsequent discussion on experiences and issues.
Tranquility Zone (TZ) This involves both personal tranquility and visualising themselves as worthwhile individuals. This takes them on an imaginary journey to an island where they meet their ‘wise person’ and re-evaluate their view of self through mental images and role model stories.
Discovery Zone (DZ) A group discussion immediately after the TZ of personal development and self esteem issues. This encourages them to reflect on personal estimation and personal choices – what kind of person am I? What kind of actions do I approve of?
Methodology Ethnographic, involving participation and outsider observations, interviews, naturalistic evaluation questionnaires, and critical/sceptical questioning. Particular emphasis on the pupils and the learning mentors (the interface with the pupils). The team are encouraged to generate evaluative data. A parallel report by educational psychologists is considered.
Findings (pupils) Pupils in the early phase were from a special programme for disengaged pupils Reported that it had the wow factor Became actively involved and ran their own TZ/DZ in the local hospital Most have since then become educational achievers school, in FE and in degree courses. The first to go to University said he never remotely regarded this as a possible aspiration.
Pupils (cont.) Anger management achieved through mentally acting through a social story Personal reflection encouraged by mental reference to one’s ‘wise person’. Pupils reported the process to be calming and life affirming by encouraging a positive self image. Helped them to see a point in education and career aspirations. Personal change reported as long lasting
Pupils (cont.) Helped them to see a point in education and career aspirations. Personal change reported as long lasting and even life saving Problem behaviour radically improved Academic work also began to improve. “Service to others” also in evidence.
Vicky Vicky, an early participant, now working with children, explained how SYEP had benefited her: “I don’t know where I’d be, to be honest. I think I would have been stressful, now I think about what I do, and say No, stop, think about it, and then take it in a different way. If the Tranquillity Zone hadn’t have come, I think I’d have been a nervous wreck, I wouldn’t know how to take it out I think I had a lot of anger in me.” She went on to describe a much improved relationship with her mother, which had been difficult before, and how she felt it important to pass the positivity on to the children in her care. Two years earlier she had said, “I was having a lot of problems at the time, my life was basically going downhill every day, I thought that I’d just end it. But I came into the Tranquillity Zone and it was like, now there’s a reason to live, I am a good person, I can turn my life round. And I did.”
Parents Parents reported substantial changes in attitudes: e.g. “she came back a different child”. Some reported home relationships to have improved. Since the Tranquillity Zone is open to adults in the evenings, a number of parents became regular attenders.
Learning Mentors (LMs) Undertook a training programme to lead TZs and DZs themselves. Extremely enthusiastic feedback. Training was hands-on and personally affirming. LMs found it personally as well as professionally helpful. Enthusiasm about being change agents in their schools.
Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning Elements of social skills, not by behaviourist methods but by having tools for reflection. Emotional understanding can lead to growing competence and ability. (See Kevin Murphy, A Critique of Emotional Intelligence, 2006) Revolutionary rather than evolutionary – provides children with a breakthrough to get them out of a vicious downward spiral. Active thinking about self: contributes to teaching and learning strategies.
Psychological perspectives Ed Psychologists saw links to: –Social skills training –Cognitive behaviour psychological therapy There are better links with: –Emotional understanding and abilities (see Kevin Murphy, 2006) –Self worthiness, and self competence (see Chris Mruk, 1999)
Visualisation and the vocabulary of self affirmation Visualised pictures and stories tackle low self esteem and personal problems. All pupils viewed as having potential – ‘inestimable gems’ within them. Discussion uses metaphor in getting youngsters talking about high nature and low nature (positive and negative attitudes). Imagination, art and drama are encouraged in the DZ, e.g. mask work/body language.
Spiritual Education The process described here is secular. It is not about religious meditation or worship. It does not focus on ‘spiritual beings’ (e.g. God) but recognises that influences and role models can be diverse. See Bigger S & Brown E 1999. Adults involved see spiritual benefits – as benefiting the whole person. Spiritual education across the curriculum is described as about personal and inter-personal wisdom. This programme could contribute significantly.
Next steps Current developments are with whole classes, aged 9-13.
References Bigger S and Brown E (1999) Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education London: David Fulton Mruk, C (1999) Self Esteem: Research theory and practice, London: Free Association Books Murphy Kevin R (ed.) 2006 A Critique of Emotional Intelligence. What are the problems and how can they be fixed? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates