Marian @ Krysan


Planting golden seeds in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham


My friends, 
you are now entering
Durham, the Land of the Prince Bishops

The Angel of the North 

brings your way information on Teaching happiness; Developing a happiness programme; Flip teaching; Running a knowledge café; and A useful web address.



The happiness programme at Wellington College in Berkshire is described below by Anthony Seldon, the master, and Ian Morris, head of philosophy. The article was extracted a little while ago from the Learning & Teaching website.  Note also the involvement of Dr. Nick Baylis, a positive psychologist from Cambridge University. Dr. Baylis' work on wellbeing is further referenced in WONDERFUL LIVES on the side menu. 

 Focusing on the whole child

We have schools wrong at the moment. They should be places of enchantment, wonder and joy. Instead, they are too much about testing, conformity and exams; about dividing up those who pass from those who don’t. This is not the point of education.

We tend to think that parents are only concerned with exams. However, I hardly ever meet a parent who does not want their child to be happy, to smile and even talk to them sometimes. And young people will perform better if they are calm and happy; which means they are more likely to end up doing what they want to in life. 

 Whole child

Our focus should be on developing the whole child. That involves understanding what it means to be a child, then helping our students to discover:

  • who they are
  • what they love in life
  • what they want to be and can really contribute.

This is the goal behind our decision to offer classes in wellbeing at Wellington College. 

 Intelligent organisations

What we are trying to do is to create a fundamentally intelligent organisation, and to break that word ‘intelligent’ out way beyond the narrow view of intelligence into the idea of an intelligent community. This means you need teachers who are deeply centred.

Getting people on your side means overcoming that hump of cynicism which leads to them saying it is all about more work, more training and it’s all psycho-babble anyway. Our teachers at Wellington are coming on board bit by bit, as they see that it works. We have also set up a programme called Every Adult Matters which we are offering to all the schools in Wokingham, our local authority.

It is also important for the person at the top be fully on board. Every head or principal has the potential to create a negative, fearful environment, or an accepting and loving one. 

An owner’s manual

Imagine giving somebody a beautiful car with a wonderful engine, body and interior, but not giving them any idea of how that car operates. The result would be that the car would run in first gear all its life, have breakdowns and cease to work. Everyone would then rush in to mend it. But it’s so much easier to stop people falling off a waterfall than to put them together at the bottom. We should give students an owner’s manual. You have this wonderful body; this is how it works. You have this wonderful mind; this is how it works. Teach people these things when they are young, and they will have them for life.

 All young people

Wellington is a fee-paying independent school. But we want to use our experience to help ensure that all children and young people experience their schools as places that teach them how to live a happy life. If you can live in harmony with yourself and in harmony with others, then you will be happy.

- Anthony Seldon


We developed the happiness course with Dr Nick Baylis, a psychologist at Cambridge University. The basic principle behind the lessons is that we can learn the skills of living well. This is not new. Aristotle wrote about it in the Nichomachean Ethics. And the discipline of positive psychology is teaching us this as well, with empirical evidence to back it up.

It should be obvious that a student will not be able to access the curriculum effectively if there are barriers to learning in their lives. We all arrive at school carrying our own emotional, psychological, social and physical issues with us. When these issues are unresolved, they cause us problems and throw up barriers to progress. If we can teach our students the skills that will enable them to start overcoming these barriers, they will be better equipped to access the curriculum.

The course is aimed at students in Years 10 and 11. It is designed to show them that life is something to be lived skilfully, and that there are certain skills which they can learn and employ to make their lives go better.

Nine modules

We have divided the course into nine areas. Each area represents a relationship that we want our students to get right. Through their coverage of these nine modules, students learn:

  • how to improve the way their mind works through the way they manage their bodies
  • how to manage their subconscious mind and be aware of how it can influence the conscious mind
  • how simply being out in the natural world can increase their wellbeing
  • that it is not good to immerse themselves in the fantasy world of television and video games
  • how to resolve conflict with others
  • the benefits of stillness and mindfulness meditation.

The lessons take place once a fortnight and last for 40 minutes.


Each lesson begins with some mindfulness meditation. Research has shown that people who meditate regularly can have:

  • increased activity in their cerebral cortex
  • increased resistance to disease
  • a stronger capacity to deal with the stresses and strains of life.

The other thing we do is something called counting blessings. Research shows that people engage more fully with life and have a generally higher level of wellbeing if they:

  • count their blessings regularly
  • say thank you
  • are grateful for the things that happen to them on a daily basis.

In this way, we teach our students to be grateful for the things that happen to them.

Biographical learning

We do a lot of biographical learning, looking at the lives of other people and seeing what the ingredients of a happy life are. We might use film clips as a stimulus. Ken Loach’s early film, Kes, for example, shows various examples of wellbeing. We use a variety of techniques to teach young people how to:

  • manage their anger
  • resolve conflict
  • act out the mental processes they will need to go through to get their neocortex working to get them out of these intense emotional states.

For me, the aim is to equip the young people with the skills they will need to live life successfully. We want to make them more self-aware and resilient so as to help them to flourish as human beings.

- Ian Morris


Changes in pedagogy

Below is a video with more food for thought, this on alternative ways of teaching and learning.  You will find here that education is seen to have changed more in the last ten years than in the previous 1,000. Look out for other beguiling (even mind blowing) statistics.

Interactive learning/teaching  

But please, don't take my word for it.  Find out for yourself about the introduction of the idea of the interaction between students, lecturers, technology, and new social media. Every one - every element - is involved up to the hilt in the learning process something with rather obvious implications.  The usefulness of 'student peer groups' and the 'personalisation of learning' also get a mention.

TED video on flip teaching

All-in-all, this suggests that real change is in the air and [at last] we are all invited to the party. Commercial now over, please watch the TED video on flip teaching and much else besides. Short, but punchy and a lot to take in.  I've watched the show twice and am off to have another viewing. Remember the good advice for 'highly successful people' is to seek first to understand, then to be understood.  Click on the link below:   


Knowledge management

My thanks for the link re the above TED video go to a prime mover in the field of Knowledge Management and someone active on the international stage.  He is David Gurteen (see REFERENCE below for details).  

- Marian Moore


A knowledge café brings people together to have open, creative conversation on topics of mutual interest.  It can be organised in a meeting or workshop format, but the emphasis should be on flowing dialogue that allows people to share ideas and learn from each other.  It encourages people to explore issues that require discussion in order to build a consensus around an issue.

Changeable and complex working environments are common EVERYWHERE. Thus it can be hard to keep informed of issues and the ideas and perspectives of colleagues and peers.  The knowledge café brings to the surface, in an informal environment, all the understanding we have in an area.  A simple and recommended method that works well involves the following steps:

Preparation for a knowledge café

  • Appoint a facilitator – someone who can encourage participation.
  • Identify a question relevant to those participating.
  • Invite interested parties.
  • Create a comfortable environment – a ‘café’ layout, with a number of small tables, supplied with tea and coffee, is one option.

During a knowledge café

  • The facilitator should introduce the knowledge café concept, any codes of conduct, and finally pose the question.
  • Participants should arrange themselves into groups to discuss the question.
  • Each participant in turn shares their knowledge and experience without interruption, giving everyone an opportunity to talk. Alternatively, a ‘talking-stick’ can ensure only the person holding the stick can speak, thus avoiding the discussion becoming dominated by one or a few speakers.
  • After each participant has shared, the group continues the discussion together.
  • The groups should eventually reconvene to exchange ideas and findings – these could be captured electronically or on paper.

After a knowledge cafe

  • The real value of a knowledge café is what people take away with them in their heads, and the new connections they have made with people.
  • If the knowledge café is to be recorded – making sure to avoid disrupting or influencing the conversation – the information may be distributed to participants after the session.

Remember, a knowledge café is not a talking shop. Turn-taking is important. If everyone is encouraged to have their say, a natural and stimulating group discussion should evolve, and good ideas won’t be long coming.  If you're not already conversing through the knowledge café technique (or similar), then maybe this is a good time to explore further.    

- David Gurteen




Click on the link for David Gurteen's Website: http://www.gurteen.com


Click below for David's very useful

Knowledge Cafe Tipsheet



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