In this section I will be sharing interesting articles and books that I feel are of use to parents, children and educators.

For this week’s Head’s Corner, I want share some fun facts with you regarding the origins of the house names. I found an historical document detailing the following:

Napiers : The late Miss Napier founded the school in 1908. She named it after the oak tree on the boundary of the school garden.

Flynns: The late Rev. Flynn, LL.D, B.D., M.A., Chaplain to King George V, was for many years the school chaplain.

Champions: The Rev. A.C. Champion was the headmaster who established the school in its Purbrook premises.

Millers: The late D.O. d’E Miller, M.A., whom most consider to have done more than anyone to build up the school.

I wish you all the best over the Easter weekend and holiday!

In this corner I have already talked about the character skills we need to thrive in the 21st century. This week I would like to focus on subjects and jobs.

STEM subjects have, quite rightly, been the main focal point over the last decade, and should continue to be so, particularly for girls. However, we are in danger of overlooking skills gained from other subjects, especially the arts. Here, Keith Budge, who recently lunched with us at Boundary Oak, suggests that creativity through the arts is equally important:

Are any other subjects being overlooked? One of my favourite jokes is terribly condescending towards a highly underrated subject:

A geographer, a scientist and a mathematician are on a train in Scotland. The geographer looks out of the window, sees a black sheep standing in a fi eld, and remarks, “How odd. Scottish sheep are black.” “No, no, no!” says the scientist. “Only some Scottish sheep are black.” The mathematician rolls his eyes at his companions’ muddled thinking and says, “In Scotland, there is at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least one side of which appears black from here.”

Here Steve Bace, Head of Education at the Royal Geographical Society, makes the case for Geography being the best placed subject to help young people “be outward looking and internationally engaged- and to have the skills and knowledge to understand how the wider world works”:

Lots of experts are trying to predict the effects of technology and automation on our future jobs, wealth and wages. Here are my current two favourite authors in this field:
Dr Harvey Lewis, formerly at Deloitte, now at EY, highlighting the importance of communication and social comprehension skills over knowledge as the main determinant in whether a job is likely to be automated:

James Bessen, who founded the company that developed the first desktop publishing program, and now an economist and lecturer at Boston University Law School on the importance of having the necessary skills to “learn on the job” if we are to succeed in a technological, automated world:

Learning by Doing: The Real Connection Between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth

On Thursday I attended a conference on how neuroscience can help in the classroom. One of the most interesting talks was on anxiety, and how detrimental it is both to our cognitive function and our mental health. I learnt that repeated exposure to stress makes you more susceptible to the next bout of stress, whereas those who don’t experience stress very often are biologically better equipped to deal with it when it does happen. Repeated stress does not build resilience.

Coupled with this, I learnt one of the most important features of our brain is the ability to inhibit context irrelevant knowledge, that is to eliminate all the information we get from our senses that we don’t need, to help us focus on what is important and relevant to the task at hand.

Can we use this knowledge to help our general anxiety levels? Happiness is our number one priority as parents, teachers and individuals. Please read the articles below to help us all achieve greater contentment and happiness in our families’ lives.

Rolf Dobelli has written a book called “The Art of the Good Life” in which he believes we can find happiness more easily by eliminating the noise in our lives that we don’t need. He used Socratic thought as the basis for asking the right questions to ensure you don’t fall foul of the cognitive biases and emotion driven responses our brain is prone to doing. Here’s a nice article about his book:

Central to the school’s ethos is fi nding your passion. This may change over time but it’s crucial that everyone has a passion, which leads to engagement and provides a purpose. Your well-being, happiness and health increases once you have a purpose:

Here is one of my heroes I often refer to, the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman on understanding how the brain works, the difference between experience and memory, and how it can affect happiness:

If you want to fi nd out more about neuroscience and how it affects learning please have a look at this website:

The 6th of February is a truly momentous day for several reasons, not least because it is my birthday. However, it is also the day that in 1918 the British granted votes to women for the fi rst time. Here is an excellent article on two of the best orators for that movement:

Emmeline Pankhurst and Nancy Astor. Their powerful, persuasive language was instrumental to the cause:

I’ve seen at first hand what a force language can be. When we first introduced Growth Mindset to the school it was pupils’, teacher’s and parents’ language that we first had to address: limiting praise to focus on effort and process and replacing the “I can’t do this” with “I can’t do this yet”. These alone had an immediate effect.

The last year has been filled with news about women abused, demeaned and insulted, be it in Hollywood, Westminster or social media. What role does the language we use to represent women in newspapers, books and TV have in creating stereotypes and the treatment of women? How different are the adjectives we use to describe boys compared to those we use for girls? Have things really moved on as much as we think? I cringe when I watch a perfume advert on TV sitting next to my daughter and cannot help thinking that there’s still a lot of work to do. As is always the case, it’s best to start young, we need to address this now. Here is a really interesting article by Marcus Barrett to get you thinking about this subject (the last line is not be suitable for younger readers!):

Here is another interesting article on gender stereotyping and its effect on girls studying STEM subjects:

Understanding how we think is crucial if we are to make good decisions. Yet the human mind is hampered by evolutionary vestiges which result in different pathways or thinking systems, as well as cognitive biases. Trusting your “gut instinct” often leads to very poor decision making as your instinctive response evolved in a very different environment to our current modern day living. The best book I’ve read on this topic is Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. A neat video summary of the ideas in his book can be found here:

A short introduction of how cognitive biases infl uence the way we think are summarised in this article:

There is some excellent research in Kahneman’s book showing how, with the right strategies, we can successfully overcome these biases, make more use of our powerful pre-frontal cortex, and ensure we maximise the probability of making the correct decision. These theories are of great importance to educators wishing to ensure their pupils excel at critical thinking.


I start with a theme that is very close to our ethos at Boundary Oak: character skills. Over the past decade neuroscientists, economists, psychologists and educators have produced evidence that has called into question the, previous widely accepted, cognitive hypothesis: the belief that success depends primarily on cognitive skills- what is generally called intelligence.

Growth Mindset is the most famous adversary of the cognitive hypothesis, but there are other noncognitive skills, personality traits, or character skills that are gaining momentum in classrooms, lecture halls and clinics around the world, for being better predictors of success and happiness.

The following articles will give you a fl avour of the current debate and trends in this area:

– The Headmaster of Gresham’s school has been in the press recently talking about the entitlement and lack of resilience of the millennial generation. You can read his blog here:

– Here’s an excellent article by Thusha Rajendran on the importance of creativity and the broken state of British education:

– Professors Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas, on their 7C’s:

– How children succeed, by Paul Tough:
For me, one of the best books on the importance of character skills.

I hope you enjoy reading these. My door is always open should you wish to discuss this topic further over a cup of tea.

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