Wednesday, 22 June 2011


A guest post by petem130

With Referism we also need Positivism…

Being positive should be an imperative for us all.

The power of positive thinking.
Think yourself well!
Believe in yourself!!
Believe in your own strengths, capabilities and potential!!!

Easy to say but not so easy to do and even harder to deliver longer-term. Do pessimists outnumber optimists? As an optimist I have to believe that they don’t, but I wonder sometimes and when all is said and done pessimism and negativity have been drilled into us since we were very small children.

That’s a fairly harsh thing to say is it not? Well, I’m not suggesting that our parents are to blame, They should be, and are for the most part, our most vociferous supporters, although there are always exceptions unfortunately. So no it’s not parents.

It’s school.

Wow. Major accusation. Teachers are now mobilising to find out where I live and come and sort me out. How dare I say such a thing!!! Well, firstly I have friends who are teachers and I know the time, effort and care they put into their classes. Secondly it’s not really teachers either although again there are exceptions. Thirdly, I was a wean/bairn (choose depending on your East/West orientation) for a few years myself and I was no angel and only a very few of my classmates were.

Think back to when you first went to school. How was it for you? How long was it before you didn’t want to go back? How long before you started badmouthing education in general? How long before you and your friends bitched about school whenever you were there or whenever the subject came up?

Weeks or maybe months I’d guess. So say you start school aged 5 and then you leave at 18. That’s 13 years of serious learning to be negative. I’d suggest that after 13 years we all got the hang of it and in fact we would probably have managed a First BA Hons Degree if one had been available and we wouldn’t even have needed to study or read a book or go to a lecture. If only all subjects were so engrossing and easy to comprehend.

The peer system ensures that negativity is maintained. Did you stand there with your friends and wax lyrically about how wonderful school was and how you just couldn’t wait to get back there and get stuck in? No? I thought not.

Of course there’s always an exception. In India, for example it’s different. There’s not the same type of bitching. Education is a prize in itself. The names of students who win scholarships, prizes or any sort of educational recognition have their photograph in the local papers and are revered in their community. They may also be featured in the Indian version of Heat, appear on I’m a celebrity… or Big Brother. Okay the last bit isn’t true but you knew that. The Indian kids might, at times be negative, but not for long they need to be positive and reap the rewards of a good education.

I was involved in a school project for five years, which helped me better understand the dynamics of schooling. Students overcome the negativity but then peer pressure keeps them in it. I wondered how things could change. I didn’t come up with an answer. I did come up with a measurement however, which may be a useful indicator of educational success perhaps.

We would know that education was working and our children had bought in to it if we drove past a school before eight o’clock in the morning and there was a queue of students and teachers waiting to get in. They’d be waiting to get in because in the school they would have access to information, knowledge and resources. They would recognise the value of these and the value of making the most of the time in school to get as much out of it as possible.


We have this unique opportunity in Scotland and a moment to begin to shape a new nation. I’d suggest that our new nation does not have to follow what’s happened in the past or even follow the examples of other countries, which we may or may not admire. Amongst other things I suggest we promote positivism and in particular, helping our children to remain be positive as they can be as they go through their education.

If we could deliver that I am certain we’d have an outcome, which would impact positively on the confidence of the entire population of Scotland the New!



JRB said...

Mmmm – lots to think about – thank you petem130

But I would argue that your form of ‘positivism’, that the individual can achieve whatever outcome they desire as long as they think positively, is mere wishful thinking.
What is required is that we all have a greater sense of Realism.

Realism, brings us all the good aspects of ‘positivism’ and optimism, but they are tempered with a healthy dose of experience.

If I may suggest, you infact adopt Realism for your argument when, rather than urge the individual to be positive and the best they can be, you focus the blame for any shortcomings on the education system, (and the present education has much to answer). That is Realism.

Throughout my professional career I have met a number of individuals who held an unswerving belief in the power of positive thought and in their own self belief.
Some were a danger unto themselves and put others at risk, simply because of their misguided over-confidence / big-headedness / egotism / their erroneous sense of ‘positivism’

Had they had a sense of Realism, things might have been better for all.

RMcGeddon said...

Good post Pete.
Like JRB I've always found people who continue to promote 'positivism' to have 'issues'. I find most people go up and down in their moods and I find these people are more trustworthy and believable. Children can see straight through fake positivism and I don't think we should try and patronise them. The result is a nation of drones who sing to the glorious leader and flag each morning and who close their minds to the reality of the world around them.

petem130 said...

Thanks for your comments. I agree. I've been looking at "ism" recently with the starting point being Richard North and Referism and my subsequent post.

Your comment has introduced "Realism" which is excellent adding to my "positivism". I'm sure more "isms" will come out over the next few weeks.

The debate will be around what they mean, not just from a dictionary point of view but how they can define democracy, voter inclusion, independence, etc.

The people who have been most successful in our society have focused on an idea, adjusted at they went along but always believed in the goal they were seeking. You are absolutely right that there are some who dream but haven't the ability to recognise an adequate frame for them to work within and actually achieve something meaningful.

Thanks again.

petem130 said...

Like a lot of things in life "positivism" has been hijacked to an extent by some of the life, business, personal "coaching" people.

I think positivism is a form of optimism. So we have another "ism" in the mix! Looking on the bright side, the glass is half full and the best is yet to come.

Roll on more debate.


Apogee said...

petem 130,Hi there, lots to think about there, thanks. The immediate thing as I see it is education, which has become a form of brain washing.
When employers find supposedly educated job applicants are wanting in every aspect, it seems that the whole educational establishment needs a serious overhaul in every nook and cranny, every department, and that includes the teaching of the teachers, and, to be quite blunt, the rubbish they are teaching and the way it is being taught. Children should be able to read and write and handle the maths calculations required for living at something well above the moron level, and should be able to competently and sanely interact with adults by the age of 10 or 11.
Until we can teach that, we are wasting our time and money. That means that the teachers will have to be sensibly re-evaluated,to find the ones that can teach well and the ones who cannot found a job they can do well.
A lot of people at the job centres are there because either they were not taught correctly, or rapidly discovered school for them was a waste of time and "dropped out".Very few are naturally stupid but many have been taught to be that way. Society relies on sensible, good education, dont waste time on teaching things that people have always been good at teaching themselves. Some things need to be taught early for survival, and sex is not one of them!

petem130 said...


I agree. In fact a future post will tackle those very issues. Like all larger organisations there are people there who are good, who try to do a good job and even succeed in doing so. And there are also some who don't.

Scotland the New needs better.

Thanks for your comment.

Leg-iron said...

Positive thinking is good, but don't forget sheer, unadulterated, persistent bloody-mindedness. Although that really only works in combination with a positive outlook.

I don't know whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist. For me, the glass is always too small.

Jo G said...

Its all very well to be positive but it is difficult to be positive about education now.

In my day my teachers knew how to count and spell and I learned from them. Thus,I knew both when leaving primary never mind secondary. Sadly today we have at least a generation of teachers who can neither spell nor count. As for grammar, let's not even go there.

We have an education system which now turns out illiterates grasping various certificates - and that includes graduates - while we have various employers in despair after believing the certificates who then realise the people they have taken on are anything but "educated". And we have half-wit politicians proclaiming, "Oh but A-passes are up this year!" A-passed in what? I would suggest disillusionment. These people cannot write in good English. They cannot count without a calculator. They are therefore anything but educated.

Jo G said...

Pupils (students) are now permitted to use spell-check and calculators in exams. So, sorry, the days of pupils (students) having to prove they possess the skills to match the grade they get are over. We have given the green light to illiterates and we call them graduates. We are too far down that path now and I would not know where to start to reverse the whole fake process. I know TEACHERS who do not know the difference between to and too, there and their. I know educated people who will write things like, "These people don't know there born." What hope is there for pupils if the people teaching them don't know what they are doing and also have certificates to say they are fit to teach?

petem130 said...

Hi Jo G,
Yes I think we've all been there and seen the results. The system seems to run along the lines we are teaching this, you will do this, the exam questions will be this and here are how you answer them.

We also have academia becoming a profit centre. That's a very worrying trend. Churn even larger of students of varying abilities through the system, make sure they end up with a degree and count the money. There may be academic institutions who make sure students pass.

The system is being devalued. Where does that leave the gifted and the hard working?


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