Human Tools in Schools 

Having spent the last nine years working in schools I feel passionately that all children should be taught about their Human Tools as part of the curriculum.  In today’s fast paced and ever more rapidly changing world the most precious gift we can give our children is the ability to deal with change, and the stress and anxiety it creates. I feel this is probably just as important as teaching them how to read and write.

In a perfect world we would all learn about our Human Tools organically in our early years by watching those around us in the safety of a warm and loving family. Sadly we don’t all grow up in warm and loving families.  Many of the children who are in our education system have not learnt how to self regulate. They’re not able to maintain focus or retain information.  This is not because they’re ‘thick’ or naughty. It’s simply because they have not had the right kind of early nurture to ‘switch on’ or ‘light up’ the frontal cortex or ‘thinking’ part of the brain.

The problem with our results based education system is that it assumes all children have the capacity to think and rationalise feelings.  It assumes they are ‘switched on’ enough to be able to delay gratification.  It assumes they are able to work quickly and effectively (the curriculum is huge and comprehensive and there is much to cover).  Students who are experiencing ‘neural developmental delay’ quickly fall behind others who are ‘switched on’ and able to think effectively. This can lead to huge frustration, intolerable levels of anxiety and confusion, a feeling of failure and worthlessness. Where there is high anxiety there is often little or no good quality sleep. Lack of deep restorative sleep leads to exhaustion, lethargy, poor motivation and often the inability to engage meaningfully with peers and staff.  When a child isn’t in touch with his Human Tools and cannot deal with difficult emotions he will often fall into this vicious cycle of behaviour.

Staff who are not trained in neural development often misread these signs. They become frustrated with the behaviour and fail to look for the underlying causes.  They deal with the defenses rather than the vulnerability.

Often punitive sanctions are put in place to ‘deal with’ difficult students and this pushes them even further into defensive behaviours, in extreme cases resulting in exclusion from mainstream education.

Breaking this cycle is not easy but it is possible and introducing the Human Toolbox Program into your school will make a huge difference to both staff and student wellbeing.

Look in the Training section for information on courses that can be run within your school to equip your staff with the information they need to connect effectively with students who are struggling with performance and behaviour.