Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lead Bombs and Chillaxing

Two interesting stories caught my attention whilst listening to the radio this morning.

First, there was a pretty compelling report looking into the correlation between lead poisoning and crime statistics, namely violent and anti-social behaviour. This is interesting in that it could link in with some of the work around what causes other difficulties such as Irlen Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - with previous research suggesting chemical imbalance / anomalies within the body as a possible cause.

Second, findings from a University of Central Lancashire study made the news which suggested being given time to 'daydream' can increase creativity. There is an argument out there that ADHD / ADD learners, who are often the day-dreamers - particularly if they lean more towards 'attention deficit' rather than 'hyperactivity', have a higher level of creativity. Whilst there may be some truth in this, we have to be careful not to lock into the 'Rain Man myth' - most often found when talking about Autism, with Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein also usually cited somewhere along the way.

Having said that, this study does relate to the idea of building in 'stilling' activities and 'thinking time' and into lessons - which advocates of P4C (Philosophy 4 Children) call for in their work. Stilling activities are particularly useful, I find, with lower ability groups after break or lunch times (the students have labelled it 'chilax time'). I usually go for a minute's silence with a picture or short question, sometimes taken from 'The Little Book of Thunks', as a prompt.

However, having recently come across the 'P4C Pocketbook' (along with 'Pocket P4C', these are all you need to get started with this kind of initiative), the authors Barry Hymer and Roger Sutcliffe have other ideas such as playing a piece of music ('The Little Book of Music for the Classroom' has some good suggestions), using candles or a lava lamp as a visual focal point or getting students to close their eyes and then leading them on a guided imaginative tour - such as a walk along a beach or a journey in a hot air balloon.

In the rushed data-driven atmosphere of present-day schools, this may seem a little wooly and the latest fad but it's worth noting that this kind of meditative practice has an established evidence base for promoting well-being and P4C as a cross-curricular approach is well respected within education. Over the coming week, both this and some work around Irlen Syndrome will be taking up my energies, aside from more regular duties.

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