Radical Encouragement is an approach to developing dispositions, skills, and strategies for better thinking and learning. It combines tried and tested work on thinking skills, coaching, dispositions (or ‘Habits of Mind’) and philosophy for children.


Why Radical Encouragement?

All successful attempts at enabling people to learn better and expand their horizons depend on effective encouragement. Discouraged students will, all-too-easily, talk themselves down, conceive of their own potential within narrow limits and reign in their aspirations. Discouragement is a virus that attacks those who have allowed previous disappointments and self-defined failures to weaken their constitutions.

Teachers and community leaders are not immune from the virus, particularly when they lack control over how they should interact with children and young people or how they will be judged. And of course, students who are discouraged will often discourage their teachers and parents. So accepting the sovereign importance of encouragement and then working out the most effective means of encouraging teachers and students should be a major priority in life and in education.

Key factors in the Encouragement of Children and Young People, taken mainly from the work of Don Dinkmeyer and Rudolf Dreikurs include:

1.  Using the interests of students to energize learning opportunities
2.  Modeling the re-framing of problems and pessimistic thinking to energize effort
3.  Being aware of children’s feelings and the meanings they make out of their
experiences
4.  Helping young people to define and achieve their goals
5.  Recognizing the differences between praise and encouragement
6.  Showing faith in people as they are, not in how they could be in relation to democracy and education

The Course

The course will be a mixture of presentations and workshops with participants trying out different strategies such as Philosophy for Children and teaching thinking skills. It will also present ideas to help children become more curious, adventurous, collaborative, philosophical, imaginative, reflective, strategic, persistent, careful and reflective.

During the course participants will have:

•  Understood the connections between encouraging positive dispositions and thinking
•  Considered ways to encourage all children to question, think and learn
•  Learned how techniques of coaching can be adapted by anyone working with children
•  Understood the principles of developing thinking with young people and considered
how to plan for progression in thinking
•  Understood what philosophical inquiry can offer to organizations and schools
•  Taken part in tasks to demonstrate the Radical Encouragement approach

The course is delivered over twelve hours. We are flexible in how this is delivered. It can be over two days or 6 x 2-hour sessions or a combination of both.

Further Reading