Sunday, August 30, 2015

What doesn't work when trying to "fix" early childhood education

 I want to start this post by saying that I have very limited experience in Early Childhood education.  I have taught Upper Elementary, Middle and High School, but have only worked with very young children as a specialist teacher, mainly integrating technology into the learning engagements that the homeroom teachers were planning.  So while I don't claim to be an expert in this age range, for personal reasons I am interested in some of John Hattie's findings in his recent publication The Politics of Distraction (which can be downloaded at this link).

In many countries children don't start school until the age of 5, or even later in the case of countries such as Sweden and Finland where the starting age is 7, yet policy makers often believe that if the children get off to a good/early start then formal schooling will be easier.  In recent years huge amounts of money have been funnelled into pre-school education.  Hattie's research shows, however, that by the age of eight it is hard to detect who did and did not have pre-school education.  An early start, it seems, does not lead to accelerated learning or greater success in school.  Hattie suggests this might be because while pre-schools believe in learning through play, it is mostly only social and emotional development that is emphasised at this age, not play for cognitive development.  He writes:
Before pouring in more money, we need a robust discussion about what learning means in the 0-5 age range - and especially 0-3 - when the most critical bases are set for language, communication, listening and thinking.  Many cognitive skills that develop in these early years are pre-cursors to later reading and numeracy.
 Sadly it seems that early education can lead to early labelling of children before they even start elementary school.  Hattie quotes increases of children coming into school already labelled as ADHD, autistic or with Asperger's (in the USA the increase is 650% in the past 10 years) which means many schools now have around 15% of their children coming into school pre-labelled.  Some of this increase is coming from the demands of parents, some from teachers and some from the marketing strategies of pharmaceutical companies - however it is also true that children who are labelled often quality the school for extra funding - so for schools there is a vested interest in having these diagnoses.  Hattie writes:
Students are being diagnoses and labelled primarily for financial and accountability reasons rather than for the enactment of appropriate educational interventions.
Hattie is particularly scathing about "calming" medication for students coming to school with behavioural issues - many parents and teachers assume that if a child is calm then s/he will learn. Hattie points out that while drugs do calm children there is no corollary that this leads to learning.  In fact there are learning interventions that are much more effective in educating children with behavioural issues than medication.  Even more dangerous is the evidence that once labelled there is often a decrease in achievement gains, compared with other similar children who have not been labelled.  Hattie argues that a learning intervention is often much more expensive and requires much higher levels of teacher expertise/training than drugs or medical attention which the parents pay for, and which could be why schools are advocating for children to be medicated.

(Perhaps at this point I should mention that our son underwent tests as a 3rd Grader and received a diagnosis of ADD when he was in 4th Grade.  This later turned out to be a wrong diagnosis - in fact he was suffering from a writing disability which meant he could think so much faster than write and the physical process of handwriting was getting in the way of his thoughts, which was causing him a lot of frustration.  He was on the 99.8th percentile for intelligence, but on the 3rd percentile for his writing.  We chose not to go the medical route, instead gave him a laptop so that he could capture his thoughts without having to handwrite them.  Our son went on to do well at school and university and now works for a large banking organisation in London.  He has several times mentioned to us how grateful he is that we did not medicate him.)

Photo Credit: University of the Fraser Valley via Compfight cc

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Appeasing the parents and fixing the infrastructure

When I went to secondary school there were three different types of schools:  grammar schools were for those who passed the 11+ exam (probably around 20% of the school population), secondary modern schools were for most of the rest, and there were a few technical schools where people did vocational training.  Sometime after I started secondary school, the politics of education changed and it was decided that all secondary age students would go to a non-selective comprehensive school. Middle class parents in the Sixties and Seventies had started to be vocal about their resentment that a test at the age of 11 could lead to their child being sent to a "second-class" school.  The argument was that good teachers were attracted to grammar schools, and it would be better if there was a more equal distribution and the same opportunities for everyone at schools that were not selective.

Sometime after I left the UK, it was further decided that comprehensives were not doing a good job. At this point "failing" schools could be turned into academies which took them out of local authority control, replaced school managers, and sought sponsorship.  Academies often tended to focus on something specific, Arts, sports, technology for example.  Now, however, I read in the news this summer that around half of all academies are still "failing" students with teaching falling below a standard allowing all pupils to make sufficient progress, work not being matched to pupils’ abilities, low expectations of pupils, inadequate marking and feedback, and unacceptable behaviour by pupils with poor attitudes to learning.

In the UK the middle class parents are still unhappy, and as such are turning away from state schools. This is part of a trend across OECD countries, with a dropping percentage of students attending government-funded schools in favour of private ones (ironically known as "public schools" in the UK).  Some politicians regard this trend as very dangerous - the argument is that government schools are vital to the survival of democracy and so there must be a critical mass of students in the state sector.  However parents are voting with their feet - or maybe their wallet - as the perception remains that you can get a better education if you pay for it (or possibly that your child will end up meeting the "right" people at such a school, or possibly simply avoiding the "wrong" ones).

Parents want to have choice in the schools they send their children too - even though in reality it's only the wealthy parents who can really opt out of the state system into private schools.  Hattie's research, however, shows that the variability between schools is small relative to the difference within schools.  He asks, "Why do we provide choice at the school level, when this matters far less than the choice of teacher within a school?"

Another distractor he mentions is that of class size.  His evidence is that there is a very small effect from reducing class sizes, and the reason for this is that teachers rarely change how they teach when they move from a larger to a smaller class.  He has plotted the average country PISA score against the average class size and has found little correlation.

The next thing that policy makers often turn to is the curriculum.  Some time after I left the UK a National Curriculum was implemented with standardised tests in English, Math and Science for all students aged 7, 11 and 14, and then other exams at the age of 16 and 18.  I think some of these SATs have now been abandoned.  Hattie writes that it is not productive to stipulate achievement in years, but better to refer to levels so that students can work at their own level irrespective of their year in school or age.  A levels-based curricula can then be aligned with the assessment system and is more likely to impact student learning than standardised year-based curricula.

There is another problem with common assessments.  Hattie writes "Finding out what teachers want you to know and giving it back to them in assignments and exams is a common key to success .... such narrow excellence tends not to favour twenty-first century deeper thinking skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration ..... the art of teaching is to balance the need for surface knowledge with deep processing of this knowledge."

Hattie also uses the expression "testing gone mad" to describe what happens when a call for a more rigorous curriculum is matched with a call for more tests to check that the curriculum is being implemented (and therefore that teachers are doing their job).  The real issue with assessment is that it is providing information about student achievement, yet Hattie argues that the real purpose of assessment should be "to provide interpretative information to teachers and school leaders about their impact so that they have the best information possible about where to go next in the teaching process. He writes "Until we see tests as aids to enhance teaching and learning, and not primarily as thermometers of how much a student knows now, on this day, on this test, then developing more tests will add little and will remain an expensive distraction."

Photo Credit: paulhami via Compfight cc

Five things that don't make a difference

Over the summer I've been reading two new publications by John Hattie about what does and doesn't make a difference for improving student learning.  His research around the politics of distraction presents us with a vital message: that the minimum goal of education should be for all students to make at least one year's progress for one year's input, no matter where they start.  I've been digging a lot deeper into these findings in the last few days and am going to write several posts about the things that educators and politicians are focused on which don't make a difference, when in fact by refocusing in several key areas the evidence shows that student learning can be improved.

Hattie writes that he believes political leaders are committed to improving education, however they do not understand the factors that are most effective in improving student learning.  He refers to this as "wasted good intentions".  Politicians are quick to jump on international scores on standardised tests taken across many countries, such as the PISA results.  While there are many reasons for variance across countries bigger differences are found within schools, so the most important factor that needs to be studied is teacher effectiveness and the impact that teachers have on student learning. He writes, "recognising, valuing and enhancing the teachers and school leaders with high levels of expertise makes the difference.  It's what works best."

This summer teachers at ASB read a book about grading and reporting.  Hattie also writes about this and points out that not all students can reach the standard:  "It is highly unlikely that 100% or even 80% of students will get above the standard (and if they do, the claims will be that the standard was set too low)."  If the standard represents the average achievement of students of a particular age, then it will never be the case that all students will exceed the average.  We will only ever have 100% of students above the standard if the standard is set very low.  Politicians, however, try many approaches to get more students above the standard - and Hattie argues that most of these approaches are simply distractions.  For example:

  • Appeasing parents by giving them more choice of school and smaller class sizes - when in fact the evidence shows that the classroom they attend, not the school, is more important.  Rather than giving more choice, politicians need to focus on reducing the within-school variability of teacher effectiveness.
  • Fixing the infrastructure, for example curriculum, assessments and buildings.  In most cases changing these are only effective if teachers are guided on how to use, for example, a new space.
  • Fixing the students.  Hattie argues there is too much focus on things like learning styles when in fact there is no evidence that this enhances learning.
  • Fixing the schools - new types of schools, different calendars and so on are mostly no better than the existing options.  The most important thing to focus on is teacher expertise in the classroom.
  • Fixing the teacher.  Lots of different approaches have been tried such as teacher education, performance pay and more technology.  Hattie's findings show the most important focus should be on influencing the first years of full-time classroom teaching as it is where the greatest learning happens for teachers.
Over the next few blog posts I'll be looking into these in more depth.

Artwork painted on a wall in our Middle School

Friday, August 21, 2015

How technology can help with reading comprehension

Yesterday one of our teaching assistants came to see me.  She was really excited about a workshop she did about reading comprehension over the summer and wanted to share her resources about the role technology can play in monitoring comprehension.   The first thing I have looked at is how the way we teach literacy needs to expand so that it includes specific strategies to help students when reading online.  Research shows there are 4 processes that are essential to comprehension when reading online:

  1. Approaching the task - here are a variety of strategies that lead to understanding and how to deal with obstacles when reading.
  2. Navigating online tests - strategies for determining what is the important idea/information, and strategies for evaluating the accuracy of the information.
  3. Comprehension of and pathways through online texts.
  4. Responding to online texts - how readers communicate the information and their thoughts.
The resource that our TA shared was a toolkit for using technology to enrich comprehension developed by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke, two teachers from Chicago.  They explain that they use technology to enrich comprehension instruction in the following ways:
  • To enable all students to participate and engage more deeply - one strategy they use is to add "type" into turn and talk.  For example students can post to social media or a backchannel while reading and then see everyone's responses to their own thinking.  Posting also doesn't have to be written, many tools can enable visual response options.
  • To provide access to resources, experts of texts that students would not otherwise be able to access - in particular magazines, newspapers and primary-source documents.  Literacy is not simply processing information from printed text - it can involve using images and video and assistive technology to help emerging readers.  Students can also email or Skype with experts.
  • To provide a real-world audience for students thinking and learning - for example via blogs or tweets that can reach a global community.
  • To monitor and assess student thinking and understanding through observation of digital participation and collecting artefacts.  Katie and Kristin refer to this as "a second set of eyes" as technology adds an additional layer of information gathering.  They write that "digitally capturing student work, conversations, illustrations of their thinking, peer editing and student writing provides multiple layers of information about how and when students apply strategies". Technology also facilitates students' self-reflection
  • To meet the diverse needs of students, by adding visual, video or audio - in addition teachers can make videos that capture their teaching and make that available to students at times when the teachers are not available, for example when the students are at home, in a Flipped Learning model, or even using the In-Flip where students can use a computer or iPad in class to watch a video of a teacher or another student modeling a strategy.  For students who struggle with reading, but not with thinking, technology can allow them to access the complex ideas and texts that are beyond their current reading level.
  • To build digital literacy - it's important to teach students to interact in positive ways online.
Do you have ideas for how technology can improve reading comprehension?  If so please leave a comment below.

Photo Credit: marragem via Compfight cc

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tech Integration Guide for Teachers

This year my colleague Sharon and myself have written a book for ASB's teachers about tech integration to assist them to purposefully design learning units enhanced with technology.  Thoughtful questions to consider when planning for technology integration are provided along with skills and learning objectives. The guide is meant to assist teachers in making the best choices of approaches, student learning goals, technology tools and software as they plan for student learning. We have had this book printed and are giving it to all the teachers and teaching assistants at school.  At the same time a number of people outside of ASB asked for copies of this book.  Since most of our PLN don't live in Mumbai, it seemed the best way to get this book to them was via Kindle.  Our original intention was to allow the book to be downloaded for free - but apparently this was not possible - we have had to set a small price for it (around $1 depending on which Amazon account you have).  Here is the link if you are interested in the Kindle version.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Becoming a curator: seek, sense, share

One of the things I like about Dan Pink's book To Sell Is Human is the sample cases he adds at the end of every chapter with suggestions we can use to develop our skills.  After his chapter on clarity, he adds suggestions for becoming an information curator, based on Beth Kanter's 3-step process.  Our challenge is no longer accessing information, now the big issue is to curate it.  Beth advocates:
  1. Seek:  Define the area in which you would like to curate and put together a list of the best sources of information.  Set aside time to scan these sources regularly - for example twice a day for 15 minutes each time.  Gather the most interesting items as you scan. These sources could be following a Twitter hashtag, or perhaps a group on Google+.
  2. Sense:  Create meaning out of the material you have assembled.  Perhaps you could add these links with annotations to a tool like Diigo, or pin to Pinterest.  Another suggestion could be to reflect on them on your blog.  Kanter's advice is to add to this list of resources every day.
  3. Share:  Once you have collected and organized resources, share these with your colleagues or your social network.  You could do this by email, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for example.
For more information about the 3-step process click here to go to Beth's blog.

Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc

Sunday, August 16, 2015


One of the hardest things I learned to do in the foundational Cognitive Coaching workshop was to listen.  It's hard to listen without mentally rehearsing what you want to say as a reply.  Dan Pink writes "For many of us the opposite of talking isn't listening.  It's waiting.  When others speak, we typically divide our attention between what they're saying now and what we're going to say next." And to be honest, most of us don't spend a lot of time waiting.  We jump in with our replies without even a pause.

As educators we often talk about how important it is to teach children how to read and write, to speak and listen, and yet most of us don't really put much effort onto teaching children how to listen well. Yet as PYP teachers we should intentionally be teaching listening.  It's part of Communication Skills, as well as Social Skills. For example respecting others involves listening sensitively, and group decision making and resolving conflict also involves listening carefully to others.  Making the PYP Happen states:
A balanced programme will provide meaningful and well-planned opportunities for learners to participate as listeners as well as speakers. Listening involves more than just hearing sounds. It requires active and conscious attention in order to make sense of what is heard. 
Both children and adults need to be taught the value of the pause.  It's during the pause that you think about what you want to say, or what question you want to ask, not during the time you are listening to another person talk.

Photo Credit: oggin via Compfight cc

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Friendships in the digital age

Some years ago at a previous school I had the misfortune to have to attend PD given by a presenter/consultant whose message was basically that using technology will leave you sad and lonely.  If I had been at a conference, instead of at a required school PD, I would certainly have left the presentation at that point.  However given the circumstances, it was certainly not something that I was able to do, especially as the following day I had to interview this guest to the school for a video that was to be posted on the school website.

Last week a new study was published by the Pew Research Center that completely contradicted this "bad science".  This study of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 shows that different forms of technology can help young people to make friends and to maintain existing friendships.  The findings totally refute claims that social media contributes to harassment, depression, anxiety and loneliness and that gaming exacerbates aggression, hinders the development of a child's brain and their social skills, and causes ADHD.

Technology has improved over the past few years.  For example now teenagers can connect with each other on "safe" sites such as Facebook where they have a closed network of friends, as opposed to chatrooms where anyone can join and talk to anyone else.  Research from Pew also shows that gaming has become a leading social networking tool, especially for boys, where they can actually develop their social skills.  Almost 90% of gamers play games with people they already know and are friends with in real life, and 78% of these report feeling more connected to these friends.  The study also shows that some friendships can start digitally, though only 20% of all teens later go on to meet their online friend in person.

Here are some findings from the repot:
  • Making online friends:  boys are more likely to do this than girls, and older teens are more likely to do this than younger teens. Boys are more likely to make friendships online while playing games.  Girls are more likely to make friends via social media.
  • Texting:  55% of teens spend time every day texting with their friends.  The majority of teens also spend time with their friends outside of school, but mostly this is not an every day occurrence.  Texting is the dominant way teens, in particular girls, communicate on a day-to-day basis with their friends.
  • Gaming: 84% of boys play video games as compared with 59% of girls.  They play games with friends they know in person as well as those who they only know online.  Around half of these people they play games with online are not regarded by teens as their friends.
  • Social media:  Around 76% of 13 to 17 year olds use social media.  Teens report that this makes them feel more connected to their friends, and that this is a place where they get support during challenging times.  One negative point is that sharing can veer into oversharing, and there can be pressure on teens to keep up an attractive and popular image.
  • Phones:  are still used by 85% of teens for talking to their closest friends.
If you would like to read the whole report, I'm providing a link to it here.

Photo Credit: garryknight via Compfight cc

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Selling yourself

Although it is only the first week of school, some teachers already know it will be their last year in their particular school  For whatever reason it is time for them to move on.  Around this time of year, these leaving teachers start to think about the recruitment process and how best to package and sell themselves when looking for a new school.  I was interested to read Dan Pink's views on selling yourself in his book To Sell Is Human;  The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing and Influencing Others, which was the holiday read for the non-teaching staff at ASB.

Pink states that our first instinct is that we should sell ourselves based on our achievements.  We should emphasize what we have done and the impact we have made.  Perhaps we also want to let others know about the ways we have been recognized through promotion or through various awards. However Pink quotes from a 2012 paper by Zakary Tormala and Jayson Jia of Stanford University and Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School, who claim we are better emphasizing our potential, rather than our achievements.  They write that "the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing".  In some ways this is strange because potential is more uncertain.  However these researchers argue that this leads people to think more deeply about the person they are evaluating, which in turn can lead to them coming up with more and better reasons why the person would be a good hire.

The message here is simple:  don't just concentrate on what you have already achieved in your teaching career, instead emphasize the potential of what you could achieve in the future.

Photo Credit: Rene Mensen via Compfight cc

Friday, August 7, 2015

Problem Finding and Clarity

Over the past couple of days I've been reflecting on Dan Pink's book To Sell Is Human and seeing how this relates to both education and coaching (non-sales selling).  Today I'm thinking about the final part of the ABC - clarity.

As an IT teacher one of the things we talk to students about is the abundance of information that is available today.  When I was a child, my father used to subscribe to a consumer magazine called Which? which each month reviewed a variety of products and rated these on which was the best quality and value for money.  If my family had wanted to buy something that had not been reviewed, we would have had to rely on the expertise of the salesperson in the store as to which product would best meet our needs and budget.  Today of course everything is different.  We now have access to all the information we need to make the best possible decision about any goods, services or experiences we want to purchase, in particular the reviews of other users.  However, as Dan Pink points out, now the issue is not so much problem solving, as problem finding.  This ties in very much with cognitive coaching, in particular the problem resolving map.

One of the issues that people have when they are facing wicked problems is that they do not know what the solution might be - they don't know what they want but they know that they don't want what they already have.  At this point they are basically stuck in the present, and cannot envision a desired future state.  Before I learned about coaching, I think my first reaction to someone in that situation would have been to offer sympathy and comfort or maybe even suggestions from my perspective as to how to deal with the situation.  Basically I used to think that I had to suggest a solution.

Now I know that this is not the most productive approach.  In coaching what you do it to focus on the desired state for the person, and to set aside your own need for comprehension of the problem, for comfort or for closure.  Cognitive Coaching promotes the coachee to think in a productive manner, rather than in a reactive, survival manner.  Dan Pink writes about problem finding rather than problem solving in a similar way:  "If I know my problem I can likely solve it.  If I don't know my problem, I might need some help finding it ... part of being an innovative leader is being able to frame a problem in interesting ways and to see what the problem really is before you jump in to solve it."

Pink writes that in the past everything was about accessing information, now it's more about curating it - sorting through the data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces.  This is why in Cognitive Coaching we paraphrase over and over again as part of the pace:  "You're (emotion) because (content) and what you want is to (goal) and you're looking for a way to make that happen (paathway).  Oftentimes we need to try several times to find what the real goal is - we might not get it right first time - we need to seek clarity.

We have shifted from a situation where both sales people and coaches answer questions, to a situation where they both ask questions "uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems".

Photo Credit: Richard John Pozon via Compfight cc

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Levity -v- Gravity

In Daniel Pink's ABC of selling, the A stands for Attunement (see last post) and the B stands for Buoyancy.  As I've been reading this book I've been trying to align the concepts he introduces for selling to education and to coaching.   The whole idea of buoyancy is that focusing on positive emotions such as appreciation, joy, gratitude and so on broaden people's ideas about possible actions, opening us to a wider range of thoughts and making us more creative and more likely to come up with unexpected solutions - so making us more effective.  Negative emotions simply narrow perspectives down to survival. Emotions, of course, can be contagious - being positive can rub off on others.

However it's not good to be positive all the time.  In the chapter on Buoyancy, Dan Pink writes about a "golden ratio of positivity" which produces the best results.  People who have an equal ratio of positive to negative emotions did not have any higher well-being than people whose emotions were mostly negative.  Even those whose ratio was 2-1 positive-to-negative were no happier than those whose negative emotions exceeded their positive ones.  The tipping point seems to be 3.  Once positive emotions outnumber negative emotions by a ratio of 3-1, then people flourish.  I thought that this was an interesting thing to contemplate when teaching students - keeping that ratio of positive to negative in mind when giving feedback, for example.

Finally Pink points out that there is an upper limit to positivity.  Too much is as unproductive as too little.  He writes that once the positive ratio hits 11-1 then the positive emotions start to do more harm than good.  At this point, he claims, self-delusion suffocates self-improvement, so some negativity is essential.  Negative emotions offer us feedback on what is working and what is not, and guides us about how to do better.

In my time in teaching I've come across people who don't believe that you should ever give negative feedback to students.  This idea has always left me rather uncomfortable.  In the studies that Pink refers to in his book this balance is seen in terms of levity and gravity, two competing pulls.
Levity is that unseen force that lifts you skyward, whereas gravity is the opposing force that pulls you earthward.  Unchecked levity leaves you flighty, ungrounded and unreal.  Unchecked gravity leaves you collapsed in a heap of misery.  Yet when properly combined, these two opposing forces leave you buoyant.
Photo Credit: Flipsy via Compfight cc

Mirroring and Attunement

In our Foundational Cognitive Coaching Seminar we learned about mirror neurons.  Mirroring is an important form of non-verbal communication that help us establish rapport.  Discovered by scientists at the University of Parma in Italy in 1996, mirror neurons are brain cells that fire when we perform an action and when we watch someone else perform the same action.  It is believed that mirror neurons explain how we learn social skills and cultural behaviours and that they make our brains sociable.   We learned that mirror neurons help us to tune in to what others are feeling which can lead to empathy.

In the book To Sell is Human Dan Pink also writes about mirroring.  His ABC of how to be a great salesman is attunement, buoyancy and clarity.   He mentions that humans are natural mimickers and that we often unconsciously mirror back accents, speech patterns, facial expressions, overt behaviours and affective responses.  He also writes that it is a natural act that serves as social glue and a sign of trust:
Our brains evolved at a time when most of the people around us where those we were related to and could trust, but as the size of groups increased it required more sophisticated understandings and interactions with people.  People therefore looked to cues in the environment to determine whom they could trust.  One of these cues is the unconscious awareness of whether we are in synch with other people, and the way to do that is to match their behavioural patterns with our own.  Synching our mannerisms and vocal patterns to someone else so that we both understand and can be understood is fundamental to attunement.
Attunement isn't enough by itself however.  Just as in Cognitive Coaching, once rapport has been established it's important to think of mediative questions.  Pink writes that "top salespeople have strong emotional intelligence but don't let their emotional connection sweep them away.  They are curious and ask questions that drive to the core of what the other person is thinking."

Photo Credit: downhilldom1984 via Compfight cc

Monday, August 3, 2015

Perspective and Empathy

Perspective is one of the PYP concepts.  Our knowledge is moderated by our perspectives, and different perspectives lead to different understandings, interpretations and findings.  I thought the graphic on the left, which I originally saw on Facebook, summed it up rather well.

One of our holiday reading books was To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink.  The part I've read so far contains a section on perspective, which is entitled Use your head as much as your heart. This section struck a chord with me as it tied in with my recent thinking about cognitive coaching.  This is what Dan Pink writes:

"Social scientists often view perspective-taking and empathy as fraternal twins - closely related, but not identical.  Perspective-taking is a cognitive capacity; it's mostly about thinking.  Empathy is an emotional response; it's mostly about feeling.  Both are crucial ... Perspective-taking seems to enable the proper calibration between two poles, allowing us to adjust and attune ourselves in ways that leaves both sides better off.  Empathy can help build enduring relationships and defuse conflicts. "

A large part of Pink's book is about what he refers to as "non-sales selling" (persuading, influencing and convincing others).  This is how it is relevant to education, for example he says that teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class, and that instead of being traditional sales people trying to persuade people to part with cash, we are instead moving people to part with intangible resources such as attention.  In fact there is a whole section in the book devoted to "Ed-Med" professionals who range from community college instructors to nurses and genetic counsellors - who all want to move/persuade/help people to put time, effort and attention into something that will make that person better in some way (in terms of education or health).  So which is most effective, perspective or empathy, thinking or feeling when it comes to moving people?  According to Pink it's perspective/thinking.  He writes, "when it comes to moving others, perspective-taking is the more effective of these fraternal twins."  I'm thinking about this and will write more about how I think this relates to coaching in an upcoming post.