16 Jun

The Sustainable Development Goals as a Blueprint for Humanity

Sustainable_Development_Goals_Logo

Image result for clive wilsonClive Wilson is author of “Designing the Purposeful organization – how to inspire business performance beyond boundaries”, and is currently writing “Designing the Purposeful World – the Sustainable Development Goals as a Blueprint for Humanity”

 

 

I was inspired and intrigued when I read Michael Schluter’s Relational Thinking Dialogue “Three Relational Concerns about the Sustainable Development Goals”.  I was inspired by the fact that renowned thinkers such as Michael are evaluating the SDGs from a range of different perspectives.  I was also particularly inspired by the specific assessment of how relationships play out (or not) in the delivery of the goals.  The more people that take the time to explore, consider and discuss such views, the more we will come to realise the power of the goals and what else needs to happen in support of them.

My personal approach to the SDGs is probably different to that of many.  The moment I read the published working group draft of the SDGs in 2014, my heart skipped a beat.  All I saw as I read the paper, was a vision that totally corresponded with my own.  The key here is the word “vision”.  The words in the draft goals provided stimulus to my imagination, the vision was what arose in my mind’s eye.  This is what inspired me.

Naturally, the goals have been worked through and converted into detailed narrative, sub-goals, targets and measures, which are vital to forming a cohesive global programme but as I explain in “Designing the Purposeful Organization”, results are simply the measure of our progress to the vision.  They are rarely what inspires us.  We are principally inspired by four things: a sense of purpose; a compelling vision; a felt sense of success; and the knowledge that our talents are being deployed in support of something meaningful.  In this respect the SDGs worked for me and immediately caused me to commit to supporting and celebrating their delivery in the best way I could.

Working on the hypothesis that there would be others in the world who would be equally inspired, I set out to engage with the world in four principle ways.  I established a branch of the United Nations Association focused on the SDGs; I established a Facebook page to support the SDGs and celebrate progress; I started to write my new book “Designing the Purposeful World”; and I started to engage with groups of people from all walks of life (so far in Europe, the US and Asia).

So far I have engaged with thousands of people aged from seven to seventy and in groups from five to five hundred.  I always begin these workshops with a “mind-journey” to 2030 and ask those involved to envisage the world they would like to see (realistically) in 2030 and be happy to pass to future generations.  The amazing thing is that to date at every workshop, what people see is entirely compatible with the SDGs.  I then (and not before) show them the SDGs and they are always amazed how “their world” fits with the goals.  I then simply ask them which goals particularly resonate and in what way.  This is where individuality plays out.  We all see 2030 differently but always in line with the goals.  They leave inspired to take action which they share before leaving.

The beauty of the goals is that they are far from limiting.  At headline level, they apply to the whole world, not just the developing world, even though some of the targets are clearly oriented that way.  And, whilst the specifics may drive specific actions at the formal programme level for the UN and national governments, they certainly don’t need to constrain other players, such as organisations, communities and individuals.  I encourage people to follow the inspiration that a better world for 2030 provides to them and those around them.  Naturally, if a specific goal inspires them, I’m sure they’ll find out more about the details, but I trust and encourage that they won’t allow this to constrain their imagination and innovation.

It is wonderful that Michael Schluter and his colleagues are emphasising the real need to strengthen and exploit relationships in a plethora of ways to make the world a better place and I wish them every success in doing so.

12 Oct

Watch: Susan Pinker on why relationships matter

Relational Schools Book Launch & Premier - 17th September 2015

The Relational Thinking International Conference last month provided a great opportunity for leaders in business, the non-profit and public services sector to come together to explore the concept of Relational Thinking in their particular fields. On 17th September, teachers, leaders and education policy makers gathered for the launch of the film and book “The Relational Teacher”. We were honoured to have Susan Pinker, international best-selling author of The Village Effect, come from Canada to speak. She was passionate, humorous, engaging and persuasive as she spoke about the importance of face-to-face interaction for education, health and life.

Photography: Julian Claxton

Buy The Relational Teacher here.

Buy The Village Effect here.

 

21 Aug

Relationships for learning: making the implicit explicit

The Relational Teacher (interaction)

In a new blog piece published by the Relational Schools Project a teacher reflects on the discovery of the importance of Relational Thinking in the class room, acknowledging that things like the teacher-pupil relationship should be part of the pedagogy.

“An overwhelming number of students, when asked questions about their motivation and engagement at school, responded with ‘it depends on the teacher’. Follow up interviews conducted by the Faculty of Education reinforced the correlation: students’ perception of the quality of the connection that they had with their teachers played a significant part in their engagement in lessons, subjects and with school as a whole”, she writes.

Then, a little later, she describes an observation from a study among teachers, about their teaching and the relationships with their pupils:

“For many colleagues it was the first time that they were being directly invited to focus on their pedagogy in this way. Arguably one of the most fundamental aspects of their teaching had become tacit knowledge and a number of them found it hard to identify the relational elements of their practice – it was just how they taught.

While there’s a place for nostalgic reminiscence of teacher-pupil relationships in ‘My best teacher’ articles and leaving speeches, it’s a subject relatively devoid from professional dialogue, teacher training, aside from the ubiquitous ‘don’t smile until Christmas’ NQT adage. Should this occurrence be a matter let to teachers’ own personal idiosyncrasies, given the potential impact that it can have on learning and engagement?”

Would  you like to read the whole article? Please go here.

The Relational Schools Project is launching the premiere of the documentary the Relational Teacher during the 2015 Relational Thinking International Conference, taking place in Cambridge, 16 – 18 September. There are still tickets available!

 

 

10 Feb

Why relationships matter in schools

child covering eyes

By Robert Loe

 The ability to connect to classrooms and to each other is crucial because, in a sense, it is playing out in school, your later relationship with society.


I know relationships matter
.
 Relationships matter far more than we like to openly talk about and yet I haven’t met someone yet who didn’t agree. On Monday 26th January, however, I listened to Prof Colleen McLaughlin speak about why relationships matter in the context of education. I have never heard someone speak with such authority on the subject. Prof McLaughlin, drawing on decades of research (a lifetime’s work), asked her audience to accept several “assumptions” about why relationships matter. Why “assumptions” I thought? The evidence presented was utterly compelling and supports everything that I believe and that Relational Schools Project has uncovered in its own research in the last year. So why “assumptions”?

I take it the reason is that, in Professor’s McLaughlin’s view, she is “yet to see a school take relationships on as a topic“. Well this is the work I would like to do for a lifetime. Today, I want to share with you why relationships matter, and the reasons many of the schools we work with have already taken on this challenge.

Relationships matter because “learning is mutual and deeply social”

McLaughlin reminds us that relationships matter because they lie at the heart of the way children learn. Learning is not an individual cognitive thing; it is a social thing. I know I make this sound a little trite but it has enormous implications for how we view classroom environments. You cannot learn if you are frightened. You cannot learn if you are unhappy. You cannot learn if you feel you don’t belong in a classroom.

What’s more, you cannot hope that by adding an intervention, yet another activity to the ever-growing list of a teacher’s workload, you can make people feel engaged. Rather this is a radical change in mindset. You have to change everything.

Everything matters

You have to change the way children relate to each other in the classroom. You change the way you do learning in a way that assimilates mutuality and relationships. You have to change the way teachers relate to each other in the staffroom and challenge the values that teachers are made to operate under. And let’s be clear when teachers hear the message of Relational Schools Project, they like it and they like it because it reminds them of why they became teachers in the first place: they love children and they want to see them grow up, mature and send them off to build a society not just hold down the job. Such values are distinctive from the values of our current system which espouses competition, standardised testing and fear. In Singapore they have a word that encapsulates this value: the word is “kiasu” – be afraid to fail.

 What is enacted in schools and their surrounding communities on a daily basis matters because they shape the personal and social development of young people.

Why student-student relationships matter

We know that about the age of 8 or 9 young people begin to gravitate towards the peer group and they become the most significant source of emotional support. When young people are in trouble they go to their friends first. We know that if you want to intervene in the mental health of young people, the most powerful thing they can have is a friend. That’s why we worry (and we should worry) about young children who struggle to form relationships  or who seem isolated.

Being victimized by your peers at school is significantly linked to low levels of psychological well-being, low levels of social adjustment and higher levels of psychological disturbance. What’s more, we know that if problems remain into adolescence, they often last into adulthood. As the result, the most powerful thing you can do with a young person is intervene while they are at school.

How should teachers respond?

What we tend to do as teachers when we see someone experiencing peer difficulty is form a good relationship with the student. Research shows we need to do something quite different: the most effective intervention is to encourage interactions with all the people in the classroom. But this seems daunting doesn’t it? How can I achieve this? How can I maintain it? How can I control it? Isn’t this the job of the pastoral teams of the school? Teaching and learning, on these terms, becomes far more than supporting academic outcomes; it is the foundation to academic success and personal and social growth.

Most young people think they have a very good relationship with their teachers but McLaughlin found that there was a statistically significant group who have strong negative relationships with staff  and they were often young people with mental health difficulties. That is not irreparable. We know that if a child is depressed and they can form good relationships with staff they will improve.

Research, which I explored in a piece for BERA recently, also shows that students with insecure attachments in the home tend to experience dysfunctional insecure relationships with staff but if teachers can “disconfirm” historical insecurities then those students “fare better socially, emotionally and academically” (O’Connor and McCartney, 1997). Moreover, Smith and Rutter found that where young people have strong relationships with teachers, they are less like to become involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour and far more likely to have increased engagement with school.

Positive school relationships correlate well with student motivation, student engagement and academic outcomes. More recent studies of relationships in school have found historical, “concurrent and longitudinal connections with school attainment and adjustment outcomes….popular/accepted students tend to do well academically and are more prosocial, and have higher self-regulatory skills” (Blatchford and Baines, 2010: p.239). In short the more connected a student feels to their peer group, the more likely they are to flourish. Michael Rutter adds that being connected is more than just the ability to make friends and is as powerful as being literate or numerate. The ability to connect is linked strongly with feelings of self-efficacy; I feel that I can be effective in the world. Such students in his study were ten times more likely to be employed and ten times more likely to be in a stable, longstanding relationship such as a marriage.

You see, relationships matter because “the ability to connect to classrooms and to each other is crucial because, in a sense, it is playing out in school, your later relationship with society” (McLauglin, 2015).

I was inspired by Colleen McLaughlin this week. I hope you will be too?

Robert Loe is the Director of the Relational Schools Project, an education research and consultancy group based in Cambridge and a member of the Relational Thinking Network. This blog originally appeared on the Relational Schools Project website.

26 Mar

Relational Schools launch survey on graduate employment and internships

CAMBRIDGE, UK – March 26, 2014 The RSP has designed a survey asking recent UK graduates (2009-2013) about their experiences of finding work since leaving university.

The short questionnaire – which typically takes less than five minutes to complete – seeks to find out how many graduates are doing internships, how many of these internships are paid and whether doing an internship significantly boosts employability. In addition, we are also interested in what degree subjects are prevalent among interns and what sectors interns go on to work in.

Jeremy Swan, Research Analyst at Relational Research, said ‘In the past few years there has been a significant rise in the number of companies offering internships and these roles are increasingly seen as essential experience for some graduate jobs.’

‘That said, there is surprisingly little quantitative data on how many people are doing internships, how many are paid, what the average duration of an internship is, and so on.’

‘We want to contribute to the debate on internships by speaking directly to graduates and learning from their experiences.’

The survey can be accessed here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BQWFN5F

 

Further information

 

More information about the Relational Schools Project can be found on our website www.relationalschools.org.

 

Alternatively, you can also send an email to office@relationalschools.org.

05 Feb

Relational Schools Project launched

RSP red

CAMBRIDGE, UK – February 5, 2014 Relational Research has launched a new education initiative that will put relationships at the heart of school organisation, curriculum and practice.

The Relational Schools Project will run for an initial period of three years and will focus on a range of schools across the UK and internationally.

Robert Loe, Director of the Relational Schools Project, said ‘I am delighted to announce the launch of this education initiative. Education is currently in a period of sustained reform and this presents a great opportunity for us to consider what education is for. We want to make use of this opportunity to ensure that human relationships are kept at the heart of the system. In doing this we ensure that the whole community benefits.’

 

Further information

More information about the project can be found on the Relational Schools Project website www.relationalschools.org.

Alternatively, you can also send an email to office@relationalschools.org.