Personal Development in 2021
This theme addresses the development of students’ confidence, independence, interpersonal skills and resilience in a variety of personal and professional situations and contexts. It is likely that, as of September 2020, schools naturally place a priority on this theme as a response to the impact the Covid 19 pandemic has had on young people with a prolonged absence from conventional schooling.
'Stubborn optimism and action'
Where to start? Start here:
Acknowledge the global context right now and consider a global mindset.
Tom Rivett-Carnac, a political strategist working with the UN, created a TedTalk in April 2020 utilized here; it captures the zeitgeist and the overwhelming feelings many people are coming to terms with right now.
Students can watch the talk in full and/or reflect on his concluding remarks in this handout. Further thoughts on developing discussion are included in the teacher notes below making use of Harvard Project Zero Thinking Routines.
'One of the many things I learnt as a monk is that a bright mind and a joyful heart is both the path and the goal in life. This stubborn optimism is a form of applied love. It is both the world we want to create and the way in which we can create that world. And it is a choice for all of us. Choosing to face this moment with stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose, and in doing so, we can put a hand on the arc of history and bend it towards the future that we choose.
Yes, living now feels out of control. It feels frightening and scary and new. But let's not falter at this most crucial of transitions that is coming at us right now. Let's face it with stubborn and determined optimism.
Yes, seeing the changes in the world right now can be painful. But let's approach it with love.'
How to shift your mindset and choose your future
Teacher Notes: Introducing Thinking Routines
This site refers regularly to the fantastic thinking routines available to use from Harvard Project Zero and how they can be used in different contexts to support PPS and the student tackling their whole CP course.
This introduction to the PPS course can be a valuable opportunity to put in place thinking routines that help them reflect explicitly on the work they are approaching. This is also a clear reminder that it is near impossible to really separate the PPS themes from each other as all topics can be supported hugely by considering the 'thinking processes' that might support the development of students' skills and of course this is a theme in its own right.
As a direct result of the discussion that comes from the worksheet and TedTalk provided here, a simple core thinking routine for students to respond to in their visual journals (or whichever way they choose to respond) may help shift thinking into a growth mindset.
Prompt: 'I used to think .... Now I think ...'
This helps students to reflect, in an unthreatening way, about a topic they have discussed and how and why they might have had their thinking challenges. You can ask them to write just one statement that they feel is true to start with or give them a time limit to write down thoughts. Those willing to share can do so or you might see it as a moment of personal reflection.
Wider significance: It might also be a way for students to explore WHAT they actually think for the first time and in the context of 2020, it might be wise to prepare for a variety of responses from floodgates opening to realising that it will take a lot more work to get students reflecting and opening up about their experiences. Whatever the success of this exercise, it sets studetns on the road of developing their ability to reason and acknowledge causality in relationships. It may well be that they find it particularly challenging the first time they tackle it but then the regular application of this throughout the PPS course, make is far easier for them to process change. For example within regular debates, research assignments as well as the far larger task of developing their reflective project, the simple 'then and now' process can really demonstrate to students not just changes or shifts in thinking but also the progress they are making and the role they play in their understanding of the world; little moments like that can build confidence hugely.