All entries for March 2018

March 29, 2018

Relaxation reponse

One of the tools in our 'tool box' is awareness of the relaxation response, the opposite of the 'flight or fight response', drawing on a book by Herbert Benson M.D.

Learners with maths anxiety, and even some people we have met who suffer from severe general anxiety, ask 'why didnt anyone tell me about this before?'.

If a learner is feeling stressed or anxious, and/or is experiencing 'fight or flight', the learner can trigger the relaxation response in a short breathing exercise we teach called 5/7 breathing.

A more complete description is available to download free from, under 'The 60 Second Tranquiliser'.

March 02, 2018

Introducing the blog

Welcome to our new project blog.

This project is rooted in the significant under-achievement in STEM subjects across the world. A significant contribution to this underachievement is due to communication gaps between STEM specialists and STEM learners and resultant affective barriers developing (Msimanga & Erduran, 2017; Lee & Johnston-Wilder, 2013).

We propose an intervention based on 5 new tools for teachers and learners. Three of these tools are being used already in the UK and one in South Africa: the growth zone model (Lugalia et al., 2013), the relaxation response (Benson, 2000), explore-options-actions (Egan 2013), the 4 styles of classroom communication grid (Scott and Mortimer, 2003). The fifth is rooted in our work and built on Bruner's work and his "ladder of accessibility" (enactive-iconic-symbolic), so well-known in "Singapore maths" (Bruner 1966).

We build on the idea of academic safeguarding and preventing exclusion from STEM subjects (Findon & Johnston-Wilder, 2017); Sue Johnston-Wilder, with Clare Lee, has developed the Growth Zone Model and related strategies to address anxiety and other affective barriers to learning STEM subjects; Audrey Msimanga has developed a resonant framework for addressing communication barriers to learning STEM subjects.

The use of the tools will be evaluated in Gauteng province, South Africa, in 3 districts.

March 2018

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