Since 2004, revealing pleasure at work!

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Welcome to Philippe Vivier's Blog. The publication of my books on the guidance business and my self-coaching manuals led me in 2020 to finally regroup my editorial content within a Blog, you will be able to find all my news, my latest articles, my essays, my publications as well as my latest interviews in the press.

With the humility and logic that are mine, I attempt a quick, deliberately simplified and popularized critique of the ideas, concepts and theories that I encounter in the field of my specialty. I encourage you to be equally critical of mine. Constructive exchange is a formidable gas pedal of thought, especially when it is based on argumentation.

Fact Checking, Critical Thinking and Guidance

Fact checking, a very fashionable term, is one of the tools at the disposal of critical thinking. It allows, in particular, to quickly verify the hidden face of a situation or the veracity of a statement. It has become indispensable today, whatever the subject.

This article is largely composed of an excerpt from the first part of my book where, as if we were not sufficiently influenced by our biases, I deconstruct a certain number of beliefs that influence our choices: “Overcome Influence And Thrive - The Career Change Program for Employees”. This will allow you to see how fact checking, even more than elsewhere, is essential in career change.

I will just deal with this subject in the form of concrete and real examples. As always, the amalgam or the simple bullshit is a formidable tool of misinformation and the time needed to correct them plays in favor of their authors who can say almost anything as long as they are not part of a scientific approach and their work will never be reread by a committee of experts in the same field, and that most people will not verify. This is also an effect of authority bias.

Authority bias is a tendency to overestimate the value of a person’s opinion because of their status, eloquence, type of argument, tone or image in relation to us. Many external elements can influence it, such as the tendency to repeat certain key phrases two or three times in a speech or presentation. It is a manipulative mechanism that contributes to producing an authority bias towards one’s audience. For example, Simon Sinek has understood this and uses this technique in his speeches (available on YouTube), which allows him not to have to justify what he says and not to argue, and many people make the mistake of believing him. I made an article about his method and what he says that you can find here Critical review of Simon Sinek Start With Why book and concept et Critical review of Simon Sinek Find Your Why, a dangerous method. In his videos, we can see the power of verbal and non-verbal communication, which means that when you say stupid things with great confidence and by using certain techniques of persuasion or manipulation, you can, on the one hand, forge beliefs, and, on the other hand, pose as a leader, some great heads of state have adopted these techniques throughout the ages.

Nowadays, we are witnessing a dramatic shift in the conditions under which authority bias appears towards the uncontrollable. I have not looked for any scientific work demonstrating this, but I think that simply by observing it, it is easy to see that we have gone from the imaginary status linked to the actions, the mediatization, the social status or the field of expertise of the individual at the origin of the opinion, to the simple fact of finding an interlocutor who expresses himself on the web. Posting content, in the form of an article or a video, would immediately establish the individual as a “Knowing” as long as he is able to explain, with relative mastery and sometimes even without arguments, a point of detail or his experience on anything.

Of course, this authority bias is exercised differently depending on the individual and the nature of their critical thinking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 70% of the people on the planet suffer the consequences of this shift.

I would take for my first example the case of beliefs.

In the field of counseling, many concepts or attempts to explain problems are based on beliefs. When a belief limits you or generates ineffective processes, at some point, you have to question yourself, find another solution to finally make things right and solve the problem for good. But the problem here is that most of the time, as the speakers want to make your work easier and propose solutions that fit everyone, they replace one belief with another and finally you don’t question the one that replaces the first one! We will see together how this happens.

Let’s move very quickly to the example of a limiting belief, general to begin with, but which refers to the question of work, and which can be found in a PDF document on the site tccmontreal.com, accessed in 2020 :

 https://tccmontreal.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/chapitre-10-quelques-croyances-dysfonctionnelles-parmi-les-plus-frc3a9quentes-avril-18.pdf.

This belief and the advice given afterwards seem particularly ridiculous to me, but to illustrate my point it will be perfect.

Dysfunctional (and therefore erroneous and problematic) belief: “Human happiness can be achieved through inertia and inaction by allowing oneself to live passively.”

I’ve never heard anything like it before.

The detail they offer: “In the name of a so-called ‘quality of life‘, many people avoid getting involved in large-scale projects requiring long-term work or effort; they forget that it is most often by accomplishing or surpassing oneself that human beings obtain their most important rewards in life.

Examples:

—‘Getting married, having children? You don’t think about that, it’s way too much trouble! ’

—‘Going through college to get a degree in several years? I’d rather work and make money right now! ’

—‘Exercise, play sports, keep me in shape? It’s easier to watch TV! ’

"

Now here’s what’s offered instead: “Best-fit belief: Human beings are generally happier in life when they engage in activities to which they devote much of their energy and creativity. ”

We can summarize this statement without really changing its meaning: to be happy, we must devote our energy to a creative activity.

Really? What is the basis for this idea? Are these examples relevant? Are they sufficient to explain or validate such a thing? Does this work for any creative activity? Isn’t there another indispensable dimension like will, pleasure or sense?

Nothing that is said demonstrates anything.

Even if a study in psychology decreed such an absurdity, it would still be necessary to have access to it, to read it oneself, to criticize it and attack it from all possible angles, to read the critical opinions of other eminent psychologists on this study, to verify in an empirical way its validity at least.

Why shouldn’t I be able to be happy in idleness or in complete meditation if that makes sense to me? Why am I being told how to be happy? Does this imply that if I were happy in idleness or meditation, reading this sentence would call that happiness into question? Would I still be able to do it afterwards?

It is a form of influence and manipulation.

So of course, you can choose to adhere to fashionable beliefs, but you should have sensible reasons for believing in something if you want to approach some truth/reality in your existence. I assume that living in illusions and denial is not what you are looking for.

Nowadays, articles, books, conferences and certain theories based on belief systems are derived, at best, from a snippet of a conclusion or a tiny part of a research summary, sometimes with a twist, without questioning the research in question for a moment, nor taking into account the existence of research that would prove the contrary, or other professional criticism.

I’ll give you a concrete example of this a little later.

We live in an era where almost everyone can express what they think freely, it is the jungle of ideas and theories and it is especially the jungle of beliefs.

Beware of foolish beliefs being replaced by even more foolish ones.

So fortunately, we are all already vigilant and obviously do not believe just anyone on any subject. That said, many self-proclaimed specialists or experts can influence us more easily, thanks to a better media coverage or apparent reputation. They are then in a clear position of “supposed to know”, a psychoanalytical term that refers to the trust factor. You are more likely to trust someone who is in a position of knowledge, which reflects the image of a competent professional, at least to you.

This supposedly knowledgeable subject criticizes one belief while proposing another, you let your guard down, and that’s when he replaces that belief with bullshit, as in the example above. I remind you that this example comes from a psychologists’ blog.

Unfortunately, many world-renowned professionals are also guilty of this.

Here is an example, also taken from a passage in my book where I am deconstructing most of the things people focus on when choosing a new career horizon instead of focusing on meaning and pleasure:

The question of salary is often central in orientation or reorientation, it carries meaning, it contributes to defining our value symbolically, whether we like it or not, but it is obviously not enough to give meaning to work. At least not in the long term.

If that doesn’t give meaning to one’s work, at least not on its own, what is left? The correlation with happiness.

Money makes you happy is a well-established belief, and this, despite all the scientific studies on the subject relayed by the press, let’s dig.

Bolles, Richard N. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2020 (p. 99) tells us about the following study to explain the fact that money does make one happy. This study was published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it seems to contradict, in part, the proverb that money does not make people happy. Conducted by Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, and his colleague from Princeton University, Angus Deaton, the study is entitled: High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. It focuses on the well-being of 450,000 Americans surveyed in 2008 and 2009 for the Gallup-Healthways index.

If we stop at the title alone, the study speaks of the impact on the evaluation of one’s life and not of happiness! And then it would be essential in this study or in Bolles’ book to define what happiness is, but this is not the case.

Bolles gives us this analysis: “the less money they made, the more unhappy they tended to be, day after day. No surprise there. And, obviously, the more money they made, measured in terms of percentage improvement, the happier they tended to be, as measured by the frequency and intensity of moments of smiling, laughter, affection, and joy all day long, vs. moments of sadness, worry, and stress. So, money does buy happiness. But only up to a point.”

So it reads word for word: “So money buys happiness. Up to a point. ”

This has also been written in these terms in the press.

Yet, in the authors’ abstract, we read: “We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being. ”

This means that having a good salary increases your PERCEPTION of having a SATISFACTORY life, but NOT HAPPINESS.

It is related to our beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves.

We can also read in the summary of the study: “The question of whether ‘money buys happiness’ comes up frequently in discussions of subjective well-being in both scholarly debates and casual conversation. The topic has been addressed in a vast and inconclusive research literature.

In other words, we have not yet been able to prove that there is a link between money and happiness.

And yet, it appears that this is so deeply rooted in our beliefs that even authors and works of the reputation of Bolles’ book, which in no way defines its quality, apparently demonstrate this and thereby reinforce these beliefs.

And without a critical mind, without going to check the study by yourself, you get fooled. Or at least things are distorted, twisted differently.

To be able to affirm that money makes happiness, one would have to compare individuals with the same character, the same personality, the same desires, ideals, values, the same situation, the same job, the same house, a wife and children with the same characters, behaviors and problems, ditto for work colleagues and their bosses, and everything else. I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at.

You can’t isolate a variable like salary in a controllable way and be able to draw a meaningful generalization from it like, ‘people who earn more money are happier.’

Critical thinking and fact checking are your two best weapons against all the nonsense you will read here and there, on guidance, career transition, guidance methods, but it is very time consuming. Cleansing our brain of all the bullshit we have accepted to believe would take a lot of time, if not impossible. On the other hand, if you do this work for any new information, and you accept to stay on something like ‘it’s not sure’, you will gain. I confess I don’t understand this allergy to uncertainty. Of course, it is about reassurance, but I find it more reassuring to accept reality and therefore uncertainty than to take beliefs for certainties.

Fact checking on beliefs does not stop at the small world of guidance and the pursuit of happiness and it is increasingly vital to apply it to everything we hear or read in our daily lives.

To remain conscientiously skeptical and to remain on uncertainties will not save you from anxiety, but from an illusion.

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How to make a more rational choice?

As we discussed in the article “Can we control our choices?” that I invite you to read first, a choice is an undefined mixture of emotion and reasoning that is totally dependent on the context and the type of choice to be made. To simplify, a choice is mainly the result of emotions and processes that we do not control, combined with more or less thinking conscious and unconscious.

We make many unconscious choices all day long. You also make some choices that involve conscious reasoning, whether it is a choice you have to make in the moment, or a choice you have to make later.

In order to rationalize a choice, it is necessary to implement a voluntary reflection. It is essential to have as precise an idea as possible of what one really wants and to be as objective and rigorous as possible in the nature and elaboration of the arguments but also in the evaluation of the consequences, and finally to accept them.

You are invariably looking for the most acceptable compromise.

Making a choice is, above all, choosing a consequence.

We can dissociate certain contexts:

  • To make a choice alone, which engages only us, including in its consequences like choosing a strawberry or vanilla scoop in its ice cream cone.
  • Making a choice alone, but one that has consequences for others, such as a career choice.
  • Making a choice together, where it is a search for compromise so that the consequences suit both parties in roughly equal and acceptable proportions such as an amicable divorce or the choice of a vacation destination.
  • Making a group choice, more or less large, and/or in the same principle, the consequences will be accepted by the majority as the election of a mayor or a president of the Republic.

Whether you have to make a choice alone or with others, the problem is the same: to identify objectively and realistically the consequences of this choice and ideally, to focus on facts, tangible elements rather than opinions and to ensure the development of a clear argumentation on which a consensus can be ratified.

In pairs or groups, you will have to agree on the different arguments and their order of importance in order to reach a consensus on the evaluation of the consequences.

I’ll come back to this later, but for now, let’s focus on the different situations you may find yourself in.

Of course, this is going to bring up some scenarios that may relate to your choice of career direction, but I’m going to keep it general enough to fit in with a global approach.

Several cases of figures thus:

  1. You may be faced with a choice when you don’t know what you want.
  2. You may be faced with a choice when you think you know what you want.
  3. You may be faced with a choice to make when you think you have to choose between one or more of the options already identified, but you may not be sure that you have completely covered the issue either.

 

Your degree of rationality when making a choice is limited by your thinking, frame of reference, knowledge, experience, education, convictions and beliefs, influence, representations and cognitive biases, at a minimum.

Your emotions do not have a control center as you imagine it. They are the result of millions of years of evolution, but also of your experience, representations, etc.

Pure rational choice is impossible.

Here is a suggested process to follow in order to make the most intelligent and reasoned choice possible.

  1. Identify all the components of the situation and the elements to be considered.
  2. Develop arguments on each of the defined points (regardless of the number of people).
  3. Critique the arguments and then make a constructive criticism of them, assessing their meaning or interest in the context of the choice to be made, their objectivity and their value by defining a scale from the most important to the least important.
  4. Verification that we base ourselves on facts and not on emotions or impressions.
  5. Verification of the intellectual honesty, the dynamics in which the choice is made. Am I acting in good faith and what is at stake in this decision?

 

I will clarify each item on the list with the intention of being as simple and understandable as possible and then I will use the example of choosing the right training. I chose this example because my main readership being parents, it is important that these topics have a concrete application to facilitate conceptualization.

To define what you want and make a choice, you must, of course, study the problem. You can’t make a rational choice without information, so this process aims to go deeper into the situation, to help you clarify what you want and finally to make an informed and most rational choice.

I mentioned above, you must first know what you want and be sure of it. That’s part of the process. No matter what scenario you find yourself in.

If you have already made a choice, but still have doubts, the best thing to do is to start the process again, especially if you can’t answer clearly or with relevance to these few questions and others that will come to your mind: What are you basing your decision on? Are you basing it on an impression, a piece of advice, an article? How serious is this source? Is this source indisputable? Why do you think you want this? What is your goal and why? etc.

 

  1. Identify all the components of the situation and the elements to be considered.

 

It is a matter of listing everything that you consider should be taken into account in your choice, by broadening your thinking as much as possible. You have to go deeper into the subject to understand it better, then do more precise research, if needed, on some elements, on the state of science and in particular on the existence of a meta-analysis, which is the highest level of scientific proof. A Cartesian approach, certainly, which should not necessarily be limited to, but which cannot be ignored. Secondly, consider the consequences of your choice, its implications, for you and possibly for other individuals or goods depending on the context.

Choosing a vocational course:

The prerequisite as I said is to know what you want to do for a living, what job you want to do.

You will also need to identify what you want from your training in terms of learning or specialization.

You will need to define selection criteria including how you will compare them.

Finally, list everything you need to consider: program, specialization, cost, transportation, distance, duration, accommodation, country, how often you want to see your family, food specialties of the area and what you will do with your pet.

 

  1. Develop arguments on each of the defined points (regardless of the number of people).

 

The point is to argue about the real importance of taking into account the elements you have identified.

Choosing a vocational course:

  • A random point: Maximum cost of the training

Fact: My parents can finance a training course for me at a cost of USD 10,000 per year all inclusive.

Sample reflection and argument development: Should this be a criterion for choice? Do I have other financing options? Have I asked one or more banks about their terms for a loan to finance my education that I will pay back when I am in business? Am I willing to do this? What are the risks? etc.

After all these questions: what final decision do I make on this point and why?

 

  1. Constructive criticism of the arguments, their meaning or interest in the context of the choice to be made, their objectivity and their value by defining a scale from the most important to the least important.

 

Choosing a vocational course:

  • One item: Opinions gathered on the training or school/university

Fact: 2 people interviewed at an education fair booth or open house, raved about this training.

These opinions influenced you.

That said, should you consider them? Is their source reliable? How can you verify it? Have you verified the information given? Are these the students most likely to give a good picture or have a convincing speech? Did they offer any critical thinking, any real bad thing mentioned? How much weight will you give this element? Can it be considered at the same level as other elements and why?

A special note on the level of arguments that are too far from the problem and the issue to offer a relevance that would require dwelling on them, as for example: you are reorienting yourself and changing university and your argument is: “I chose my last training for its program and I was disappointed, the program should not be part of my main choice criteria. ”

Obvious sophistry and argument that have no other interest than to have you make an error in judgment. Above all, it is necessary to really analyze the program study you had done and make sure that the next study is very thorough to remedy the problems experienced.

 

  1. Verification that you are basing yourself on facts and not on emotions or impressions and that nothing was forgotten.

 

Once you have done this work on ten or twenty arguments, you will have to review everything. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to your intuition or your feeling about an element of this or that training, but it is necessary to dissociate feeling and reason, and to try to determine where this “impression” comes from, how you explain it and what place you think you should give it.

 

  1. Verification of the intellectual honesty, the dynamics in which the choice is made. Am I acting in good faith and what is at stake in this decision?

 

When you choose a training course after having chosen a profession, because choosing a training course is NOT choosing a profession. First you choose a profession, then the training that will allow you to train for it as you wish.

In many families, the choice of university or school is made in consultation with parents, who have taken a certain “place” in the thinking process.

These are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to check your momentum and ensure your intellectual honesty in the thought process.

Is it my choice?

What state of mind am I in when I make my decision? Are there external elements that influence it?

Do I want to please people? Do I want to impose my decision or to be the one to decide by putting aside certain arguments? Am I in a power struggle with my parents? If so, why? Have I been honest in defining the consequences of my choice? etc.

Remember, a choice is a compromise with yourself or with others, there is no ideal choice and even less a purely rational one.

This process, far from being ideal, seeks to allow you, if you follow it, to considerably increase the rationality of your choice and to have a clearer vision of some of the reasons for your choice.

I hope this will help!

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Can we control our choices?

I chose to write this article because I have long been aware that many clients make temporary or definitive choices that they sometimes find difficult to explain and we often find ourselves having to deconstruct elements that were based on perceptions, beliefs, etc., revealing a lack of reflection. As we will see, there are many explanations for this phenomenon. Education is the first of them, thinking, analyzing and reflecting is learned, and on the other hand, the brain naturally tends to make instinctive choices.

I’ll stop you right here, our relationship to life is not only commercial, fortunately, I won’t deal with this issue from a marketing or only influence point of view, because the act of buying is a specific process that is not at all the main point here and because a choice involves emotions, therefore they are inevitably influenced. I have decided to approach the question of choice in its globality and without compartmentalizing the approach in the manner of economics, psychology or philosophy, which would be far too reductive for such a complex phenomenon for which having indisputable proofs seems impossible. It is for me totally absurd, whatever the approach, to want to normalize, categorize or predict a choice according to predefined parameters or a priori consensual scale of value, each individual having his own history, education, values which affect his emotions and evaluation criteria. This should not necessarily be taken as irrationality, since a choice is by nature subjective. Nor should we forget the great disparities in the analytical or reflective capacity of individuals, as can be shown by an IQ test, even if this is not totally representative.

We are continually led to make choices, which in everyday life are more or less important, and almost automatic, as has been shown by cognitive psychology research. There are also less trivial choices with important repercussions or costly personal investments, such as choosing to adopt a dog or buy a new car.

During a career coaching, the importance and impact of the choices that will be made lead one to wonder even more.

Faced with the question of choice, the individual is perpetually confronted with questions such as what is the best choice? Did I make the right choice? How can I be sure that it is the right choice? How can I make the right choice?

Or by taking more distance on this problematic task:

Isn’t a choice simply a matter of compromise? Can we consider that there is an ideal choice?

We can, of course, approach such a subject from several angles, two in particular that come immediately to mind, the philosophical angle which would try to answer all the above questions, and the practical angle i.e., what can I do to make an intelligent rational choice?

A rational choice means to make a choice of reason which for the larousse dictionary means: the faculty proper to man, by which he can know, judge and conduct himself according to principles: The reason considered by opposition to the instinct.

I will first define what it is and then I will focus on the pragmatic aspect, because I think that it will be beneficial for the reader, even the informed one, and this will be the subject of a second specific article.

I differentiate between two main families of choices, even if we could perhaps start to break down the problem according to context, cultures, etc., I will try to keep it simple and accessible without overcomplicating something that is not of fundamental interest in the context of this article, because it is not a matter of understanding exactly what is at play in making a choice, scientific research is still trying to do that, but rather of defining how to make an intelligent and sensible choice and to do that, you need to know some principles.

We can dissociate two types of choices.

We have the choices:

—Dictated by emotion and whose rationality is unconscious or little worked by the conscience.

—Dictated by emotion AND reason.

 

Our choices are naturally derived from our emotions

 

I consider that a purely emotional choice is no longer a good choice, even when it comes to surviving. The following examples are from real life:

  • I think of the individual who dies after a fight over a car space in a parking lot.
  • I think of the individual who dies trying to pull his daughter out of the bathtub while she is electrocuted by her cell phone that fell into the water.

Media reports are full of examples of individuals who have made inappropriate emotional choices.

I will not attempt to detail the possible causes. The nature of a pure emotional choice has a distant origin and has been developed and refined by the brain over millions of years to ensure human survival in conditions and contexts that have nothing to do with our current social and technological life. A reality that many individuals do not manage to apprehend in all its globality and complexity, or even simply lack knowledge of the mechanical, physical or physiological implications of the technologies and tools used on a daily basis and appropriate responses to situations that may arise. Caught up in the action, in front of the urgency of a situation, the reasoning and the speed of reflection are of no help to prevent the error. Adaptation has not been able to do its work, because it is slow, while these last 300 years have profoundly changed human life.

Our emotional system could not adapt in such a short time.

We are emotionally handicapped in relation to the world in which we live. Others are also socially handicapped, unable to adapt to the complexity of society, in part or in whole.

This is to be associated with the lack of scientific knowledge of the average individual, of the system to which he belongs.

In short, our primitive brain at the emotional level must evolve and take into account a complex, changing world, of which it knows little and without the necessary knowledge to react as it has been accustomed to do, that is to say in the immediacy, with relevance.

Science has shed some interesting light on the cognitive phenomena of decision-making. To make a long story short, recent studies in cognitive psychology have shown that the brain tends to make choices based on emotion, very quickly, and that reason does not intervene, or intervenes very little and often unconsciously, in many everyday choices.

 

A choice of reason, under control of emotions.

 

We are victims of our emotions, influenced by far too many things that most of us are not even aware of on a daily basis and that we cannot control, even when, like me, you are closely interested in these issues, and if you were not convinced, I invite you to remember the fifty or so different cognitive biases that influence emotions, reasoning, representations and beliefs, among others.

In this context, it is not difficult to consider that even a rational choice is biased.

If one were to define a rational choice as an ideal or perfect choice, then it would be necessary, a priori, for the individual to have all the information necessary for his choice and to have understood it perfectly, for this information to be true and validated by a meta-analysis (the highest level of scientific proof/validation) and for this information to be of such a nature that it could not be called into question by subsequent discoveries. This last point is automatically problematic for many works in the social sciences and humanities. It is therefore also necessary to have the assurance that this choice has not been influenced and that no bias has come to alter it.

I think you’ve figured out that it’s perfectly impossible.

Therefore, making a choice is a compromise, a preferred option over another one, the consequences of which are probably uncertain and we have to live with it.

An ideal, perfect, objective, rational choice is not something that can be achieved by the human brain.

However, even though in some contexts the consequences may be uncertain and a choice may be considered to involve a degree of risk, making a reasoned choice is choosing consequences.

Since it is impossible to grasp all the implications and consequences, one may even wonder whether the ideal choice is a realistic notion.

Many sociologists, psychologists and philosophers have been studying this question for a long time and there are, of course, important disparities in the ways of approaching the problem and I must propose here a collection of them for the reader in the form of a quotation, quite long since it is an article which traces the authors who are for and against on the question of the real rationality of choices. I’m citing only one source because to be honest I’m lazy right now and it’s a good one. I only cite one source because, to be honest, I’m lazy and it’s a source that fairly accurately reflects diverse opinions on certain aspects of the issue.

This is a French article, titles and description have been traduced.

Rational choice: the pros and cons (no date) Humanities. Available online: https://www.scienceshumaines.com/le-choix-rationnel-les-pour-et-les-contre_fr_26957.html (accessed: February 26, 2022).

 

“Pros: George C. Homans (1910–1989), American sociologist, applied the principles of neoclassical economics and behaviorist psychology to the analysis of social facts. His theory of ‘social exchange’ made him one of the first propagators of the theory of rational choice in the social sciences (Social Behavior: It’s elementary forms. Under the general editorship of Robert K. Merton, 1961)

Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001), a psychologist and sociologist specializing in systems, developed a general science of decision-making. Among other things, he developed the notion of ‘bounded rationality’, which takes into account the fact that our decisions are not perfect, but limited by the information available to us. H. A. Simon contributed to exporting the rational choice model to political and social sciences, but he made its use more complex.

Pros: Gary Becker, born in 1930, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1992, has adapted the tools of neoclassical microeconomics (postulate of the rational actor) to activities that are not part of the market: family (having children, divorce), delinquency, drug addiction, etc. His theory of human capital (1964) makes him an advocate of rational choice.

Pros: Stephen Levitt, born in 1967, is a professor of economics in Chicago. A specialist in microeconomics (individual decisions), he published in 2005, with Steve Dubner, a book (Freakonomics) in which he shows the calculations underlying all sorts of crazy facts, such as cheating in Sumo wrestling, in an orientation close to that of Gary Becker. Tim Harford, born in 1973, is also a proponent of ‘freak economics’ (The Logic of Life, 2009).

Against: Daniel Kahneman, born in 1934 and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Amos Tversky (1937–1996), a Stanford psychologist, have collaborated for more than twenty years on experimental research into the heuristics and cognitive biases that affect our choices and often make them less than rational. Their prospect theory (1979) turns its back on the theory of rational choice. Together with Richard Thaler, born in 1945, they are considered the founders of behavioral (or experimental) economics.

Against: Raymond Boudon, born in 1934, professor of sociology at the Sorbonne, has developed in his work the idea that the theory of the rational actor is incapable of describing human action in general. The individual has good reasons to act, but these reasons are diverse and subjective. Moreover, the aggregation of individual actions can produce ‘perverse effects’ (Raisons. Bonnes raisons, 2003).

Cons: Jon Elster, a Norwegian philosopher born in 1940, has devoted most of his work to exploring the difficulties we have in acting according to clear preferences. He has analyzed the tactics we use to fight against the weakness of our will. According to him, the human actor is often unable to decide between two preferences (Irrationality, 2010).

Cons: Dan Ariely, born in 1967, teaches at Duke University. A mathematician and psychologist, he then turned to experimental economics. Considering all sorts of subjects from ordinary life, such as having a coffee at Starbuck’s, he shows that our choices constantly violate pure rationality, but also that our drifts are predictable (It’s [really?] me who decides, 2008). ”

 

I think I have covered the main points of what I think needs to be considered without going into too much detail, and I will leave the reader with the range of opinions of some sociologists and psychologists who have looked at the question from a certain angle, because far be it from me to go into detail on a subject on which it is difficult to consider being able to reach anything other than an imprecise and fluctuating representation depending on the context or a point of view.

If you have a choice to make and need some help with a framework, please read my article on How to make a more rational choice?

 

Pessiglione, Mathias. « Décision et rationalité : un sujet indiscipliné », Cités, vol. 60, no. 4, 2014, pp. 29-41.

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Indicators that a gifted child is not supported by the school

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some indicators that I have quickly put together for parents that will allow them to identify that the school is not taking care of their gifted children as it should and is not adapting its methods and supervision. This is despite the fact that the national education system claims to do everything possible to support them according to their needs and the recommendations of specialists.

Of course, nothing dispenses with having a good knowledge of the specificities of your gifted children, particular or shared. I therefore encourage you to get information and training on the subject, as this is probably the best way to accompany your child serenely and intelligently into his adult life.

It is not a question of defining how many indicators you need to take into account to be sure of the situation and determine if your child's needs are known, taken into account and provided for.

It's about using common sense, because not everything is necessary and just because you identify a few things in this list doesn't mean that your child is not being properly supported.

As you will see from some of the indicators, it is necessary to know your child's specificities, but above all his real level of knowledge, especially in the different subjects, which invariably involves personal work, on weekends and during the vacations, via revision books and exercise books allowing him to progress at his own pace and to set himself challenges. This will allow you to know the overall level of his knowledge and to compare it with what is offered in class in order to evaluate the extent of the gap.

These indicators are not ranked in order of importance.

You will find some indicators that may seem redundant, but I wanted, or at least I tried, to make sure that they allow a faithful representation of certain cases.

If you notice any omissions, please send me a message so that I can complete the list.

  • The teachers will tell you about the heterogeneities of most gifted students, if you dig deeper you will have the opportunity to see that they do not clearly understand what they are talking about and paraphrase the psychologist out of context.

  • Discussions with the teacher(s) show you that his specificity is not understood since nothing in the discourse refers to it or presents elements of differentiation that should be highlighted. This is one of the best indicators of the degree of knowledge on gifted children's specificities and the knowledge and implementation of the most relevant accommodations.

  • If the teacher complains about lack of attention or that he is hyperactive and can't stay in place.

  • If the teacher penalizes the presentation of the work or the neatness of the assessment or exercise rather than simply encouraging him to do better.

  • If the teacher ignores issues related to the assignment, lacks of clarity, precision and misunderstanding leading to a false result.

  • If the teacher doesn't give the student anything specific to do that will allow him to go deeper into the exercise when the student has finished before the others.

  • He does the same exercises as the other students, well below his real level. You know this level because you have assessed it yourself through homework. For example, in primary school, he is asked to do a one-digit multiplication without a carryover using the table, whereas he knows how to do five-digit multiplication with a carryover without needing a table or a draft.

  • He takes the same assessments as the other students.

  • The practice of taking assessments is different, notably by giving priority to oral questions when necessary.

  • The evaluations or the notations do not seem to take into account the possible redundancy of the exercises or their extreme simplicity which could explain a lack of interest and a bad answer.

  • The evaluations do not take into account the errors of comprehension or misinterpretation of the instructions while the concept is assimilated.

  • He has the same homework.

  • He exactly the same program and at the same speed as the others.

  • He is not offered any further study.

  • He does not have a specific timetable.

  • The meaning of what is learned is not explained.

  • He does not attend any other class.

  • The teacher does not create level groups within the class.

  • The teacher does not give him/her a role as a tutor to another student.

  • He is not offered any specific support, possibly with the help of a supervisor who would come specially to the classroom a few days a week to help him with certain tasks or exercises.

  • Exercises and homework, week after week, are repetitive, and the student is made to repeat many times what he already knows how to do.

  • The teacher does not favor memorization strategies that rely on sense or logic.

  • The student's skills or knowledge are not taken into account, for example in math, even if he has the level of a higher year level, he is made to do the exercises of the level of the class in which he is registered.

  • There is a discrepancy between what the child tells you about his friends and what the teachers say. The teachers feel that the child fits in well with the group, while the child complains that the others do not want to play with him or that he is excluded from the groups. This can show Lack of supervision or discernment, because they have not understood his difference and the need to be very attentive to his emotional well-being.

  • The teacher does not encourage him, admonishes him, only expects him to do better.

  • His creativity and intuition are not rewarded: in math again, if he knows the result in his head and does not explain his reasoning, this will not be valued by the teacher. (The problem of relation to the norm, the need to conform to expectations). This must be valued and at the same time he must be encouraged to play the intellectual game of transcribing and breaking down his reasoning, as if he had to explain it to someone else.

  • The teacher does not encourage work on understanding the subject and remains above all anchored on the acquisition of knowledge and its faithful restitution. (rote type.)

  • Only one class jump is proposed.

  • Quarterly assessments show that concepts are not acquired even though you know they are (must be validated on your side by the student's personal work and exercise results).

  • The said assessments do not offer any written explanation indicating that the teacher is aware of the limits of this assessment and the assessments on the acquisition of knowledge.

  • There is no consideration of affinities or buddies for class composition.

 

I encourage you to be measured in the evaluation of all these indicators to ensure that you are basing your observations on reality and not on impressions...

 

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Sample letter for parents to teachers of gifted children

Here is a sample letter to be adapted and given to the teachers of your children who have not been trained or made aware of the specificities of gifted children.

First, you should make sure of what is the exact situation, please follow this link to find some key tips to help you work with your teacher/school/district : https://www.nagc.org/get-involved/advocate-high-ability-learners/advocate-your-child

If you realize that nothing's done the way it should and it's a knowledge and will problem, check the letter below.

I have voluntarily separated this prewritten letter from my article on the wanderings of the school in the face of gifted children in order to improve the referencing of the content so that it can be found more easily by the majority of parents who have to deal with these difficulties.

You have permission to copy, modify, and reuse this letter to give to your child's teacher. For professionals, journalists, bloggers, you have the obligation to cite the source of this letter in a clear and detailed manner as well as to link to this website, in case of editorial use.

It goes without saying that I decline all responsibility for the possible consequences arising from the use of this letter and you are therefore entirely responsible for your action.

This letter has been traduced from French, please alter it before use with the specific wording needed.

It has been deliberately formatted to fit on a single A4 page. When editing the content, I encourage you to make sure it fits on an A4 page to ensure its reading. If at all, this is effective.


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Hello Mr/Mrs ************,
I know that you don't have much time, so I have prepared a 3 minute read summary to help you understand in 7 points what a gifted child is and the specificities of learning for adapted care and pedagogical differentiation (information taken from reliable sources and professionals of learning disorders).

- There is an official framework for taking into account gifted students who are part of the special education needs group.
- A gifted child is not necessarily brilliant.
- The usual learning methods based on repetition and rote learning, among others, are not adapted to them, and 2/3 of these children will eventually encounter difficulties (refusal, school failure, emotional or behavioral problems, etc.).
- Correct results and the absence of visible problems do not exempt the implementation of a pedagogical differentiation, because they have a different memory and cognitive functioning and this influences the learning, comprehension and attention processes.
- The acquisition of knowledge and concepts is 3 to 4 times faster and qualitative.
- The ease of redundant tasks is the number one problem. Tasks that are too simple/repetitive do not trigger cognitive processes, resulting in errors that may suggest that they still have gaps. Errors are not a sign of deficiencies or a need to revise/retake concepts necessarily. They invest in and do better on complex tasks.
- They do not have a good grasp of the implicit and may interpret the instructions/question at face value, or not understand them, not thinking they can be so simple.

How to adapt the rhythm (Base center référence des troubles des apprentissages, Hôpital Neurologique, Lyon) (Ideally find the right research or center for your country)
- Differentiated work by level and/or skills.
- Acceleration of the training with specific support.
- Individualized timetable with a contract by period.
- Follow-up of certain subjects in another class.
- Enrichment/expansion in areas of success.
- Grade skipping should be favored in the primary grades.

What work should be done? Enrich, deepen. To adapt his pedagogy around 6 axes (Base reference center of learning disorders, Neurological Hospital, Lyon) (Ideally find the right research or center for your country):
- Knowing and respecting his difference.
- Teach him methods to structure his thoughts and language. Work in particular on learning to break down reasoning.
- Nourish his intellect, exploit his resources.
- To compensate for ease by proposing exercises adapted to his real know-how by limiting repetitions when a concept is assimilated.
- Propose motivating and more complex research activities.
- Encourage autonomy, creativity and the use of intuition.

The stakes are high; we must ensure that we do not pave the way for the difficulties already mentioned, such as refusal, academic failure, emotional or behavioral problems, etc.
We must not allow the child to become complacent, and lose himself to vegetation, and we must ensure that he keeps a positive and interesting vision of school by offering him regular intellectual stimulation as well as a balanced emotional environment, which is why we must be vigilant so that he is not neglected or mistreated by his peers.

I very much hope that in the very short term you will be able to implement differentiated and more complex teaching, I have decided to start on my side, but this gives him extra work which is not going in the right direction. Reducing repetition and making the work more complex seem to me to be the first things to put in place and I would like us to discuss this.

My child has a folder in his bag containing the documents from ********* and the « reference center for learning disorders » which cover in detail the points mentioned in this document, including a list of resources and he will wait until you ask for it to give it to you.

Thank you for your consideration,
Mr/Ms ***********


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The last paragraph is useful as it will give you an indicator of how/if the document was read and processed, and will allow you to question why the documents were not requested of your child. Do not necessarily draw hasty conclusions...

You will find on the NAGC website a great link of ressources for teachers : https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources-educators

Some Key reports in Gifted education you can use to support this letter : https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/key-reports-gifted-education

As a reference, only to show you the kind of document from an undoubtable source that you need to support this letter, because I couldn't find one in English, here is the French document that is referenced to in the letter, please find one from this kind of source with this kind of data : le rapport du centre de référence des troubles des apprentissages, Hôpital Neurologique, Lyon

 

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Why doesn't school support gifted children?

The present and future problems that parents of gifted children face and will face in the future are related to the lack of training of teachers and the lack of adapted pedagogical adaptations proposed.

It is interesting to note that on most of the websites dealing with gifted children, the one’s from the different states, including the NAGC website, the emphasis is generally placed on identification. Identification is emphasized because many children are not identified and therefore are not properly accompanied?

I am surprised by one thing, generally when a child has difficulties, they are identified quickly, teachers, psychologists and parents wonder about their origins. The existing reading grids allow for a fairly rapid diagnosis in order to put in place the appropriate measures.
The question of identification does not seem to present a major difficulty in itself and would therefore only be of interest, in the case of gifted children, in order to ANTICIPATE the problems and above all to offer them appropriate support. Otherwise, I would like to understand why it would be useful to identify a gifted child who does not have problems if it is not because his particular functioning requires pedagogical adjustments.

Since all gifted children have similar cognitive functioning, many specific accommodations would then be common and others related to the specificities or difficulties of each one.

Idyllic, isn't it?

Obviously, this is an important part of the overall problem, but in the end, if after this identification, no adapted measures are really put in place, the child is not better off.
One could then think: what percentage of children, who are offered an adapted pedagogy, would be sufficient for this to be acceptable?
30 % ? 50 % ? 70 % ?

Is there not a problem with any of these answers?

And of course, the answer cannot be either: we only offer educational accommodation to gifted children who have difficulties.

And yet, wouldn't that be the norm?
There are no statistics, but I'm afraid it's close to that.

It is not a question here of asking whether these arrangements are necessary, for which types of children's profiles, and what their impact would be, I do not intend to criticize the work of neuroscience researchers or professionals in learning disorders, and I do not want to go into digressions on boredom, its origin and its differences according to the students, how to encourage awakening and interest, how to make a lesson interesting, how to remain passionate about one's work when one is part of national education, etc. The question has been decided, texts have been written and measures have been defined.

The central issue I'm going to explore today is teacher training, without which all of this is meaningless.

Let's be honest, I'm not going to make any friends within the national education system by publishing such an article, even if I hope that most of the readers who are part of it will have the objectivity to accept the reality of the situation in the majority of cases.


A distressing reality for parents.



Many parents in France are confronted with a problem that seems to be from another age, in spite of a supposed awareness dating from about 15 years ago today and especially when compared to what is done in other countries, especially in the United States and England, even if one should not believe that there is no problem in their country, in the public sector, because there are many specialized schools, which distorts the global comparison.

The problem of these parents starts from a very simple fact: they are confronted with many teachers and school directors in public or private schools in 2021 who are not trained in the issue of gifted children. They do not have sufficient knowledge of the specificities of gifted students and of what it would be necessary to offer them in terms of educational accommodations, whether or not they have difficulties.

However, the teacher's discourse, the way he apprehends the student and the way he corrects the evaluations or exams give many indicators of this ignorance, I will come back to this in the next paragraph.

As is often the case, it is difficult to draw generalizations based on different specificities and personalities, and even more so in the case of gifted children, especially since there are also other particularities related to their IQ test results, whether they are heterogeneous or not, and their overall score, which can range from 130 to 170, can have a significant impact. A score that is only an approximate instantaneous value and the result of a test that can be biased, by the desire, the investment, the mood, the relationship with the neuropsychologist who makes them take the test that day, their degree of satisfaction with the quality of their breakfast, etc.Depending on their age and their experience, this will change, and the indicators to spot them according to the profiles will also change.


I am going to focus here on the question of school and not on the question of gifted children, which has already been addressed by many authors, and for which, in this context, I have nothing fundamentally illuminating to add.

So I come back to the main problem, which is the teacher's level of knowledge of how a gifted child functions, in direct relation to the support that will be offered in class, and I will give you a quick example of an indicator without going into too much detail. It is indeed logical to consider that if one does not know how a gifted child functions, one cannot accompany him, even if the IEN (National Education Inspector) tells you what to do, this will pose a problem at some point, if only at the level of the evaluation of his knowledge, as we shall see.

It is stated in all the literature and research that a gifted student does better on complicated tasks and loses interest easily when faced with the repetition of simple tasks, so they may well not be focused and fail an exercise even though they have fully mastered the concept. In a case like this, a teacher who is aware and has the knowledge to provide relevant and intelligent tutoring to gifted children would be able to detect that it is simply a lack of attention or disinterest and would not conclude in his quarterly report or the result of the exam that the student is lacking in this concept or that it is a knowledge to be reinforced. It is an indicator that allows you to become aware of the situation.

Of course, this issue is related to the issue of assessing students via a grading system, which therefore cannot bring out the interpretation and experience of the teacher. It is either right or wrong and this conditions what is acquired and what is not. A system that is discussed all over the world, has many problems, and is totally inappropriate for a gifted.

As always when I want to share with you my thoughts on certain subjects, I try to make it concretely usable and interesting, therefore, I am going to propose in a second article, a standard letter in which you will have many elements allowing you to have indicators on which to be vigilant while having a letter to give to the teachers of your children that you can adapt if necessary, so that this common reference allows you to communicate on the same basis.
I wanted to separate these two contents for the purpose of relevant referencing.


This problem has unfortunately many short term consequences and without trying to be sensational, medium term consequences, if we consider that it can influence school dropout, refusal, boredom, and in some cases lead to school failure. So of course, it is important here to know what exactly is defined as school failure, where it starts and where it ends, and this can be a very different reality from one child to another. I wrote an article recently on this issue that I invite you to read.

I am not going to list the possible short term consequences nor the medium term consequences, because depending on the child, these will be very different and it would not be interesting.

Beyond the possible observation of professional incompetence and the inadequacy knowledge evaluation system, there are two main questions for parents: Is my child's teacher aware of the specific behavioral and learning characteristics of gifted children and is he anchored in the beliefs that a gifted child must perform well and be ahead in all subjects? How are my child's specificities taken into account and what type of supervision, pedagogical differentiation and knowledge evaluation are offered to him?

Often, you will not have clear answers and you will find it difficult not to believe that these teachers see the gifted student as a necessarily brilliant student who does not need to learn differently than others and for whom brain-feeding, repetition and rote learning should be even more effective than for others.

Skipping classes seems to be the first solution envisaged as the only pedagogical arrangement that will satisfy everyone, as if it were a solution to the differentiation of learning. In reality, it is simpler for the IEN, for the school director and for the teacher, since the student follows courses that are of a higher level than the one he has or is supposed to have and that, consequently, it is not necessary to bother putting in place solutions that are much more burdensome on a daily basis. Grade skipping has its limitations, however, because while the gap will always be there, the age-related concerns will not be the same.

As much as you may want to and assume this to be the case, don't expect for a moment that the best interests of the child will be at the center of the supervisors' concerns, at all levels, away from adult issues, hierarchy, internal processes, power plays and self-esteem. Expect them to seem more interested in sticking together than in getting into fundamental discussions that will end up requiring them to spend time on it.

We end up with a very bureaucratic dynamic where it seems as if we are dealing with two dimensions; the conceptual dimension and the reality.

Indeed, the parent quickly notices that there is the discourse of the administration "which looks great" on the institutional site and the reality of the field where the teacher does not have the desire nor the keys to propose the necessary accompaniements. This is a paradox that the parent is inevitably confronted with very quickly, since in the vast majority of cases, the psychologist who tested the child warned the parents, even if only in the report, about the child's functioning and about some of the necessary schooling adaptations.

Here are a few examples that can be found when reading the texts on the French national education website, promoting in 2009 training courses on the issue of gifted children, which seem to be very well conceived, "Guide d'aide à la conception de modules de formation pour une prise en compte des élèves intellectuellement précoces" (Guide to help design training modules to take into account gifted students) https://www.education.gouv.fr/bo/2009/45/mene0900994c.html (accessed at the end of 2021), I quote:

"A fourth goal: to help teachers build caring and constructive relationships with the parents of gifted students.
The relationship with parents is crucial: from the very first years of schooling, the family must be able to place its trust in the school by being certain that its child will be accepted, recognized with its particularities and supported in its needs. Establishing this trust, transmitting objective and precise information, and arranging regular meetings to work with the parents are essential steps for which training must prepare.

That's beautiful, isn't it?

We also have clear legislative regulations in France:

Article L321-4 of the Education Code
Appropriate arrangements are made for gifted students or those with special abilities, to enable them to develop their full potential. Schooling may be accelerated according to the student's learning pace.

Annex 12 of circular n° 2014-068 of May 2, 2014 states that "gifted children (EIP) benefit from the necessary educational accommodations. If they are experiencing difficulties, a personalized educational success program (PPRE) may be set up. If they also have learning difficulties, they can benefit from the personalized support plan (PAP), which organizes the arrangements that enable them to enter into a dynamic of academic success."

Circular n° 2012-056 of March 27, 2012 specifies that "gifted children (EIP) must benefit from individualized responses".
http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid25535/bulletin_officiel.html?cid_bo=59726

The circular on gifted children of October 17, 2007 states that "whenever a student shows signs of being unwell at school or college, a learning or behavioral problem, or simply when his or her parents request it, the situation must be examined without delay, and any appropriate measures must be taken."
http://www.education.gouv.fr/bo/2007/38/MENE0701646C.htm

To help teachers, circular n° 2013-060 of April 10, 2013 specifies that "as of the beginning of the 2013 school year, each teacher welcoming an intellectually gifted student into his or her class will have available on Eduscol a training module on this issue."
http://eduscol.education.fr/cid59724/eleves-intellectuellement-precoces.html  

A parent who reads this is filled with hopes, with a feeling of well-being that transports him with a sense of ease like no yoga session has ever done before, but beware, the heavier the fall will be in the face of reality. A reality where the parent is tossed around, where he will be considered as a nuisance if he is insistent and pressing on his expectations and/or all the forces present within the administration are sending him back like a « hot potato » (French saying), and that no one has the time nor the desire to deal with.

And it is at this point that he remembers some of the key words of the texts cited above: "supported in his needs", "establish this trust", "objective and precise information", "indispensable", "benefit from individualized responses", "parents make the request", "without delay", "adapted measures", "each teacher", "training on this issue".

Yet in every interaction, regardless of who is involved, a striking discrepancy is perceptible.

Worse, they don't want to be stopped from going around in circles in their little administrative routine, and they don't want us to ask too many questions or poke our noses too deeply into their workings, processes, knowledge and methods. In spite of everything, some teachers are sometimes totally transparent about their degree of knowledge on the issue, but as far as the IEN is concerned, we are in the register of: "let the professionals work!", which is a shame when, on the other hand, the institutional texts advocate regular and clear dialogue. In short, while the director and the teacher should be accountable to the parent and invest in a relationship of exchange to find the best solutions, they report to their IEN, who does not want the parent to get involved.

Everything seems to be based on an almost apparent desire that the parent should not realize that no one in this scabrous organization chart of incompetent officials really knows what they are doing, what should be done, whether it is really important and what is really at stake.

Finally, perhaps this is where we get to the bottom of the problem: does it matter?

I'll rephrase for a bureaucratic administration: Is it statistically worth the effort to mentor gifted children? Finally, isn't the common ignoranccese students have everything to succeed compared to other children and that it would be a shame to give them more time and resources?

To understand what is at stake at the level of the administration, one has to know the subject and the problem in detail and to get out of one's beliefs, one has to be trained or at least to have spent time to document oneself and to be able to assimilate the notions with objectivity and intelligence.

 

The stakes of some are not the stakes of others.

 


The risk is great and the stakes are high for students and parents because statistically, we can consider that 1/3 of gifted students end up failing at school, a subject on which I recently wrote an article and which concerns between 25 to 40% of students depending on the definition of academic failure to which we refer. Unfortunately, since gifted students only constitute 2 to 3% of the students, we find ourselves in a situation where economically this is not a "game changer" since those who would end up in academic failure would only represent less than 1% of the students.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) This is a shocking figure, even if it is transformed into a number of students.

In this context, improving the supervision of gifted children will not have a significant impact on the numbers; statistically it will not change much. On the other hand, at the same time, it will complicate the life of many teachers. So for a minister, or a bureaucratic administration, the interest is very low. It is a minority.

Obviously, it is imperative to put on a good face, to propose content on Eduscol for teachers, to create pages on the national education website presenting gifted children and the necessary accommodations with a lot of summaries of conferences or presentations and documents from experts.


A wide disparity in investment depending on the regions, it’s true for France and also the US. Indeed, not all academies are alike, as we shall see.

Let's take the angle of the user's situation to better understand his confusion and expectations. When the parent is looking for answers, the teachers give a brush-off when the student has no difficulty, "move along, there is no problem", and then he finds himself in front of an overworked, incompetent IEN, who beats around the bush with vague answers, making it seem as if the student is being taking care of as it should. And he gets annoyed when he sees the lack of follow-up. This parent should be glad to get a meaningless response to his email within a month, which only leads to another question.

The worried parent is trying to understand who is doing what and to whom he should report his needs. He would like to know who to contact according to the questions or problems raised by the situation.


In a way, this is also explained by the internal organization, since gifted children action within the government is decentralized. There is no top dog, the last straw for a bureaucratic administration.

There is a "referent » (the guy you refer to) for gifted children in each academy, whose role seems to be defined in the texts as "the privileged interlocutor of parents".

Each academy is obviously free to manage communication on the issue as it sees fit; no main entity manages the communication or actions of secondary entities within the academies (Academies are entities that manages all education and school matters in a city). And no one seems to ensure the intelligent application of the legislative texts at the level of the teachers.

Should we therefore consider that, to have an idea of the number of gifted children in France poorly taken care of by the national education system, it is enough to look at whether the academy of the region proposes documents for its teachers as well as a quality dedicated page on its website? This would be hasty and reductive, but perhaps we would not be far from the truth if we assume that if the academy's gifted children referent feels invested and invests in creating content and making sure that things happen as they should, then the reality on the ground becomes quite different. At this point these are just guesses linked by logical reasoning.

Only a few academies in France seem to be active and propose on their website documents for teachers and parents as well as for educational psychologists. All psychologists are far from being up to date on this issue, let alone specialists, and if we consider that national education psychologists do not have the time to do everything they should, it is likely that they do not have the time to continue to train or self-train on many issues that they are not confronted with daily.

Among the academies that seem to be active, we can mention the academy of Versailles, which has worked on a charter for gifted children in regular classes, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier and Lyon.

The ANPEIP proposes a page here: http://www.anpeip.org/enseignants/589-cat-fde/cat-fde-biblio/799-une-selection-de-documents-education-nationale (accessed in December 2021) where many resources by academy are grouped.

The NAGC aslo proposes a page of ressources: https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources (accessed in December 2021)

This is how the organization chart is generally organized; each academy has a gifted children referent who also has other functions and is therefore supposed to oversee the IENs, but his role is obscure.
If we take the example of the academy of Bordeaux in 2021, the gifted children referent is part of the regional educational inspection of mathematics in which he is an academy inspector. As a gifted referent, for each question, he will refer you to the IEN in charge of the gifted service for the zone, who will then refer you to the IEN that is in charge of the school your child is in, who will finally be in charge of encouraging teacher training and proposing pedagogical adjustments, even if there is no indication that he is trained on the issue of gifted children.
After all, if the supervision of teachers and the proposed adjustments and their justifications raise questions, there is a good chance that the local IEN has only a vague idea of the issue and the stakes.

In the end, when faced with what will be implemented, you will never know clearly who is trained and who is not.

Yet we can find on https://www.education.gouv.fr/la-scolarisation-des-eleves-intellectuellement-precoces-9878

"In each academy, a referent for intellectually gifted students is the main contact for parents and the educational community."

This is therefore not the case.

When you declare your gifted child to the administration, in order to be taken into account, you may be asked to send a report specifically intended for the school, following the assessment carried out by the psychologist, to the educational team, shedding light on the cognitive and affective functioning of your child, with a view to adapting the teaching as closely as possible to his needs.

Of course this sounds interesting, but remember that in the field, beyond the cognitive and affective functioning of your child, which would be to propose an extremely particular accompaniment and I would be the first to rejoice, it appears that the question arises first of all from a more global point of view at the level of the knowledge of the typical functioning of a gifted child, the teaching team not having always been trained, it cannot be in a position to understand the issues, the problems arising from a teaching similar to those of neurotypicals (if I may use this controversial expression) and does not know the specificities of learning, the type of investment according to the context, including emotional, and the typical errors to be blamed on disinterest or lack of activation of cognition according to the degree of complexity assessed in the exercises proposed, to mention only a few points.

This request, in such a context, appears ridiculous.



What about the reality, in the classroom, of the specific support to be offered?

 


Don't get carried away, what has been asked of you in terms of cognitive report will probably be of no use since, at the level of the teachers, the course, the methodology, the exercises and the homework will probably be the same as for all other children.

Overall, it appears that more and more teachers are trying to simplify their lives. We can see this when their courses tend to multiply the use of video in primary school with reports or programs such as "C'est pas sorcier » (French tv Show which simplifies interesting subjects for children). This is worrying, especially when we know that many experiments in psychology have shown that learning through video is absolutely not effective. On the other hand, for the teacher who wants to simplify his life, it is ideal. We remain in the same logic. This demonstrates a general trend. The invested, passionate, idealistic teacher becomes a rare commodity and when one of them tries to propose something out of the norm and the established order, he is put in the closet. It is not for nothing that we have seen a decline of the overall knowledge level of children from 1970 to today.

Open a primary school textbook from 1970 and compare it to today's textbooks, you will be shocked. And don't compare the level of the CNED (At home schooling courses made by the governement) with that of a class of the same level either, it is an exercise that leaves after-effects.

In this disarray created by the fact of noticing internal dysfunctions, a blurred distribution of roles, the feeling of not knowing who to turn to and a total lack of communication and dialogue in all transparency for the good of the child, teachers constantly trying to simplify their lives and the general decline in the level of national education over the years, the parent is disoriented by everything he can read during his research, which is supposed to reassure him about the type of welcome and support that the school will provide for his gifted child.

Things are simply not what they seem to be for the parent of a gifted child and it is essential to take matters into your own hands and make clear and reasoned requests. Before that, the parent will have to be trained, to be patient and I consider that the only solution at this stage is to propose to the teachers a very concise presentation of the global problem in order to promote awareness. This is why I propose a model letter that you will find in my Blog.

A few quotes to finally try to laugh rather than cry about it, taken from an article on the government website. So I won't quote everything that makes me tick, because we wouldn't get out of it... :
Source: "Schooling for Gifted Students" - https://www.education.gouv.fr/la-scolarisation-des-eleves-intellectuellement-precoces-9878 - (accessed December 2021)

"The school must meet the special needs of gifted children or those who demonstrate special abilities (EIP) and the expectations of their families."

It must, but it does not.

Regarding detection: "Teachers are vigilant in assessing student achievement when a child is struggling."

In reality, most of the time, if the child doesn't have identified difficulties, we have better things to do, and it will be dealt with the day they have difficulties, because in the class there are already struggling students.

A reactionary system, where prevention is needed. Having said that, I won't go into detail because this is a much more global problem and we would be going beyond the scope of this article if we went into it in greater depth.

"Intellectually gifted students should receive individualized responses, as part of the personalization of educational pathways."

It's not clear, but it sounds wonderful.


To conclude, that this poses problems of unity and that it is condemned when a teacher unilaterally decides to propose a different pedagogy, even if the results are there, why not, I can hear the arguments even if I find it insane, but when the prescriptions of supervision and action are defined in the legislative texts and put forward on the institutional sites, but are not applied in the field and that it goes against the interest of the child it seems to me conceptually unjustifiable and intolerable.

Dear parents, the road will be long, I wish you success in not entering into conflict. Unfortunately, when one wants to make one's rights heard, and this is what it is, as we have seen, with an entity that considers that the user does not have to dictate its conduct, and with teachers who for many are complacent in this power relationship with the parent, and seek to simplify their lives, conflict is never far away. And yes, your children are indeed users of the school and as such, the school has a duty, especially since it is compulsory and the modalities of home schooling in France have become stricter, to provide them with an adapted service and it is sometimes necessary to remind them.

Good luck.

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Causes of school failure and solutions for children without physical or environmental predispositions

I will not try to elaborate here an umpteenth definition of school failure, because you will already find many depending on the authors and writers of the web, according to the French Wikipedia page: school failure can designate an educational delay, in all its forms.

A definition that is sufficiently global to be dangerously generalized, but after all, this notion has a meaning directly linked to the representations of each person and isn’t it, for those who have to deal with this problem, the cause that it is above all important to identify in order to find solutions. Here again, many authors list the problems without necessarily proposing any interesting in-depth analysis or easy-to-implement solutions.
So I’m going to remedy this and give you my analysis of the problem, which seems to me, generally speaking, in everything I’ve read, to carefully avoid putting my foot in it in order to ensure that I remain politically correct. Political correctness is a bubble of hypocrisy that prevents us from addressing the problems as they are and therefore prevent us from finding effective solutions.

But between some who define school failure as a “delay” in schooling and OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) stating that it relates to students “who leaves school without qualifications” in its Project description from “OVERCOMING SCHOOL FAILURE: POLICIES THAT WORK”, site and document accessed on November 23, 2021 at: https://www.oecd.org/education/school/45171670.pdf, there is a significant gap.
In the absence of an official definition and between the two representations of school failure above, the reality is that a majority of children correspond to it, at some point.

For many parents and teachers in the real world, school failure occurs when poor results accumulate, when the child does not catch up and eventually shows a lack of interest in school and school work, in all subjects. This is rare in elementary school, already more frequent in middle school and even more recurrent in high school.

Behind this term lies a very different problem for each parent and student.

It is therefore with a desire for objectivity and realism that I will address the issue of academic failure in order to propose solutions to be implemented for the general public who are interested in this issue and who are grappling with academic failure as it is experienced.

A worrying situation that is not improving


I’ll take the example of France but all countries have approximately the same statistics, so even if numbers are not the same, the problem that emerge is the same. In 2011, according to a government study: “As an order of magnitude, among the 2,700,000 young people aged 15–24 who are no longer in school, i.e. 35% of this age group, 685,000 have no diploma, i.e. 25% on average for metropolitan France. But as we can see with unemployment statistics, this figure is only a value of what is statistically taken into account and does not necessarily reflect the reality on the ground.

Which students are affected by school failure?

According to official reports and the consensual analysis of the situation by many authors and journalists, the victims of school failure are mainly and statistically from disadvantaged populations.

But how are these statistics constructed? According to which selection criteria? With what data and what type of sample? Despite extensive research, I have not been able to find anything about this. It is therefore difficult to make an in-depth analysis.

I am sure that there are many students who fall through the cracks of statistics in privileged environments. Indeed, costly means can be put in place to remedy failure, postpone it over time or ensure that the student will eventually graduate. There are many ways to help parents who are both rich and helpless, including tutoring, academic and student coaching, private schools and boarding schools. And after a High School diploma, if the government considers it a diploma that gets people employment (and it’s not the case with the French equivalent “Bac”), then the difficulties encountered by students are no longer considered academic failure.

And then there can be varied backgrounds with students who will be labeled as failing only for a few years of their schooling, painstakingly finishing up with a degree. This may suggest that the government’s position of looking at academic failure in terms of whether or not they graduate is fairly consistent.

But from there, a student who fails his High School Graduation because in his last year he had personal problems, for example, would be counted in the statistics and would be considered a school failure? This would be inane. In France, this diploma is sanctioned by an end-of-the-year exam, so the student can have all the knowledge needed but could suffer from stress for example on the day of the exam and fail.

We can quickly make a link here with the question of the evaluation of knowledge widely criticized for its lack of unity and homogeneity, this has been proven by scientific research. I leave it to you to look into this on your own, as it would not add anything significant to this reflection.

Without even going too far into detail, we can put together a few key figures to allow us a more accurate assessment of the situation, going beyond the simple statistics for France provided for a specific problem:

19.8% of students not in school, neither employed nor trained among 15/24-year-olds (2016) (OECD).

13% of students leaving school without diplomas (2015) (DEPP—Insee)

24.7% of non-graduates among 15-24-year-olds not attending school (2013) (Insee)

37% of students who do not continue in the field in which they were enrolled at the end of their Bachelor’s degree.



(Source Cnesco “Les indicateurs du décrochage scolaire” accessed on 11/25/2021 at: http://www.cnesco.fr/fr/decrochage-scolaire/indicateurs/ and source : Crédoc, « Aider les jeunes à mieux identifier leurs goûts et motivations personnelles : un levier pour améliorer l’orientation », Cnesco, 2018

Of course, with regard to the 37% failure rate in Bachelor’s degrees, we are dealing here with a statistic that is not considered in the context of the study to be academic failure, but rather an orientation error.

Depending on how we define academic failure and admitting the inevitably limiting aspect of taking into account students according to the criteria of academic failure statistics and the fact that obtaining a diploma is indeed a criterion for identifying academic failure and that the Bachelor’s degree is not a final diploma of an academic pathway that rarely allows one to exercise a profession, given the competition on the labor market, then we would be in the presence of a percentage range of failing school students that would be in the order of 20/25% to over 37%.

We are probably facing a problem that affects between 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 students!

A deafening reality for which most actors are still looking for solutions.

In order to reflect on education and this problem of school failure, it is essential to take into account student pathways to identify additional reasons and add them to the long list of solutions to be found.

The question of where the problem lies is central, but the national education system has a lot of trouble looking at its own navel and when it does, the changes attempted at the highest level are rarely reflected at the bottom of the ladder at the level of teachers or school directors, we only have to take the example of gifted students support in primary, middle and high schools, which is a disaster without a name despite the beauty of the texts on the national education website and the countless resources available to teachers. This is a subject that I will deal with next time, but it is important to be lucid about the speeches, the reforms, the will of the executive and the real changes that can be seen concretely at the level of teachers and school principals.

Failure in School and Failure in Life


There are many articles on the web dealing with the causes of academic failure that are not worth quoting here and from which few lessons are learned. That said, one element frequently emerges: multiple authors try to make a clear difference between school failure and life failure, indicating that there is no connection.
Obviously, this would be a frightening parallel.

It is not a question of sensationalism, we are sufficiently stimulated at this level by the media, but it depends on how one considers the notion of “succeeding in life” and whether it is linked or not to the individual’s feeling of having a (fulfilling) job, each person will replace the word in brackets with the one that suits him or her and corresponds to his or her representation of success. We all know how much time a job takes up in our daily lives and how it can affect our personal lives.

If we take the question from the angle of the learning system set up and developed by the national education system, which should therefore be the case if we seek to understand the limits of the system and the origin of the real problems, then, let us not be fooled, school failure is identified and measured by grades, grades influence the school path, career orientation, and then, if success in life is measured by the type of training followed and the profession to which the individual has been able to gain access, the two are invariably linked.

Without good grades, the educational pathway is influenced or blocked, which does not give access to high-level training and the individual therefore ends up doing jobs that he certainly did not choose and that are not very qualified, which would help explain the statistics presented.

Within the learning and grading system set up by the national education system to generate student success, failure at school and failure in life are directly linked. Conceptually and philosophically, on the other hand, these two notions are “a priori” decorrelated, even if it were necessary to work on a more in-depth definition of them, free of any representational bias, at least.

Causes and solutions to school failure


I distinguish two main groups of causes:

1. Exogenous causes
2. Endogenous causes

I have made this distinction in order to define what is internal or external to the individual, what can be changed and what cannot be changed, and I have simply grouped them in this way.

I can’t propose a solution for all cases, if your case is not specified, it doesn’t mean that there is no solution. As far as possible solutions are concerned, they depend directly on the group to which they belong. Solutions that are quick and easy to implement exist for endogenous causes, which is not the case for exogenous causes that require a global and cumulative support and that may never be totally solved. In other words, there are no solutions to certain exogenous causes.

We have the first group of exogenous causes such as learning difficulties or difficulties in adapting to all types of learning (Gifted, Dyslexia, etc.), illnesses, physical deficits (sight, hearing), intellectual deficits, socio-cultural level, type of education of the family, the school system in place, etc. They must be taken into account for the evaluation and, of course, for the planning of solutions and care. The accumulation of these factors will only make the interest of an accompaniment in the search for solutions more complicated and even illusory. There are, of course, solutions to exogenous causes, but these cannot be generalized and must be defined on a case-by-case basis, so I prefer not to attempt generalized solutions.

For all the students who do not present the above problems, these are endogenous causes that can be resolved much more quickly and easily.

I cannot propose a solution for all cases, if your case is not specified, it does not mean that there is no solution, you can contact me even if you do not manage to implement the proposed solutions so that I can help you.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the main direct or consequential endogenous causes of school failure and their solutions, of course, without knowledge of the specific situation, it is not possible to list all possible solutions:

- Difficult adolescence

Very often, there is an antecedent that does not help, ordeals, unspoken words, reproaches (possibly unacknowledged), a difficulty in accepting or understanding certain behaviors of the parents, whatever the communication problems, if the situation becomes unbearable, trying a real discussion and making a contract together can help; otherwise family therapy can be a solution.

- Episodic absenteeism

This can be the effect of many different things, from an addiction to video games that makes the student play all night and skip school the next morning, to learning abilities that make the student think that it is not necessary to go to class, there can be an enormous range of reasons, depending on the stage of the student’s education (high school, preparatory class, university). It is necessary to go deeper to define if this is the real cause of academic failure, that said, it is commonly accepted by pedagogues that 50% of the learning work is done during active listening to the course. Remedying this through dialogue and a contract of trust between parent and child, without introducing a reward system, is often the most judicious approach.

- Repeating a year is not well accepted

Repeating a year can be the source of many emotions, it is increasingly rare, but despite this, it is sometimes carried out without the student being truly aware of the reasons and without any support to help him/her change the behaviors that caused what is experienced as a punishment, sometimes a regression. Offering the student a few sessions of discussion with a specialist, coach or psychologist in order to take stock of his or her emotions, the situation and their cause, can help promote acceptance and put the student in a good state of mind.

- Grief

Bereavement always has an impact on school results. A psychological follow-up to help the student overcome this ordeal seems to me to be the first intelligent solution to consider.

Realization of the gap between what is taught and the applications in daily life/lack of interest in what is called general knowledge. A general knowledge that is not updated.

It is rare that parents take the time to do what most teachers don’t do, explain the importance of learning this or that. Why do we have to learn in 2021, all these dates of the 14–18 war? Where is the sense? This also has a link with the question of general culture, its use and interest, and the explanation provided. Helping the student to find meaning in what he has to do every day at school in all subjects should be done as early as possible, it would create a structure to the elaboration of meaning to generate investment. Also, help them to question themselves to make sense of it so that they become autonomous and can create a motivational lever.

- Peer abuse/victim of bullying

The frantic race towards more and more violent and shocking images, which seems to be the only way to capture and keep the viewer’s attention through the screens, poses many problems, as it appears earlier and earlier in the life of children. It is generally the result of parents who are not very available, vigilant or aware, who want to please, find comfort solutions or even through the intermediary of older brothers and sisters who watch certain programs that are not for their age. This combined with the fact that many teachers and supervisors spend more time chatting than accompanying and educating, and you end up with violence according to age groups that has multiplied in recent years with more and more silly and dangerous games in schoolyards. A psychological follow-up, a change of school and an essential work on self-assertion before this change of school seem to me to be the first measures to put in place.

- Lack of education, training and implementation of critical thinking within the classroom and the family.

Of course, this cannot be the only cause of school failure, but I felt it was important to mention it, because it conditions the establishment of the premises of proper thinking and questioning. Learning to think about oneself, to criticize one’s actions, one’s thoughts, one’s values, everything that defines who one is, or, which one wants to become and why. Self-criticism is a tremendous lever for improvement. Reflect and identify yourself, the origin of a bad grade, a failure, a lack of work, a lack of motivation. Criticize what we learn, not to give ourselves an excuse to do nothing, but to go deeper, as in history where many things are not updated in the books. Many parents do not take the time to explain to them certain concepts and values of the relationship to the other and to society, their origin and their interest, the criticisms and the limits of these values, but also the chain consequences of some of their behaviors or lack of attention. This requires a certain level of education on the part of the parents, of course, and a lot of time, as it is necessary to take breaks during the discussions, which are sometimes long, to discuss with the child rather than with the other adults in the house. This has, I think, become more and more essential given the evolution of our environment. And when the adult feels a little disarmed on certain concepts, he can go and get information and show the child that the parent also continues throughout his life to learn and that it is essential.

- Lack of learning to be autonomous.

All parents should make their child independent as soon as possible. And it is never too late. Autonomy does not mean disinterest or disaffection. Brushing their teeth, tying their shoes, doing their homework in the first grade, or writing their CV and cover letter for them in their last year of high school is not doing them any favors. Autonomy in work allows you to project yourself and understand the long-term consequences, find solutions, set a goal and stick to it. Autonomy needs to be put in place immediately, even outside of a situation of academic failure, with a small moral contract, without micromanaging or constantly checking; otherwise the meaning collapses.

- Lack of objective, of projection into the future



Work for work’s sake is no longer enough, the student does not know why he works and what meaning it has for him. Orientation, this life objective that must be defined to benefit from the only healthy motivation to work and learn, must be chosen. To give meaning to one’s actions, orientation coaching with a qualified professional is today the only relevant solution.

- An orientation or a path imposed by the parents

When you define your child’s life path, it makes sense to you, it makes sense to him/her, but it can only hold in the short term. The individual must find what makes sense for him. This is exactly why you will find so many personal development books on these issues. No one can find what makes sense to you. The concept of “leaving as many doors open as possible” is something I criticize in my books, because it does more harm than good. When faced with your child’s lack of ideas or thinking, you should not help him by thinking for him, it would be doing the opposite of what is good for him. You must give him the desire and the means to think for himself in order to make informed choices and therefore offer him a method that will help him identify and question his desires in order to make an intelligent choice. Of course, I am talking about orientation coaching…

- Reward system for results put in place by parents

Motivation is artificially supported by parents through a reward system based on results, whether these are distributed continuously or by trimester, or even at the end of the year. This only validates and reinforces the student’s feeling and ideas that he is not working for himself, but for the parents or to get the promised rewards. A palliative with perverse effects that helps no one. The solution is of course to stop this type of motivation by explaining the mistake made and by making the student accountable. Expect a momentary drop in results or attempts at blackmail, including emotional blackmail. After all, why work for yourself when you can work for gifts?

- Lack of deep motivation

This is, of course, linked to the previous point and all those concerning motivation, the visible effects of which can take different forms and be cumulative. The way the school system works, creating competition between students through grades, always ends up being conceptualized by the student and then it no longer motivates. This lure created to make students accept the feeding of their brains is no longer an illusion in the face of the flaws, inconsistencies and injustices of this grading system, the loss of faith and confidence in the system no longer allowing students to invest themselves. Who has never been out of his mind with incomprehension in front of a grade? Research has proven the high degree of subjectivity in teachers’ grades. I’ll let you type in your favorite search engine “research subjectivity rating grades teachers” when you have ten hours to spare to look into the matter, which will surely be the subject of an article one day. So, how do you recreate a healthy motivation? As previously explained, the fact of defining a precise objective and finally working for oneself in complete autonomy is sufficient in the majority of the simplest cases. (By the simplest, I mean those that don’t accumulate too many elements).

- Relational difficulties or social overinvestment



The emotional sphere takes precedence over everything else and upsets the hierarchy of priorities.
Social relationship issues and heart problems monopolize the student’s time and attention to the point that he is no longer able to think about anything else. This can be amplified by the abuse of social networking or texting and can be temporary or more permanent. A rehab treatment based on the suppression of the means of communication by a moral contract can be sufficient in many cases following a calm and objective discussion. Otherwise, a psychological follow-up can be beneficial. In any case, the objective will be to work on the realization and management of priorities within a balanced student life. Coaching can sometimes be sufficient, its effectiveness can be measured in fewer than 2 sessions.

- Lack of encouragement from teachers and parents (Pygmalion effect)

This cause alone cannot explain academic failure, but it is important to emphasize that it can contribute to it, because it is rarely known by parents and implemented automatically in the classroom. The Pygmalion effect refers to the effects of expectations projected and made explicit to the individual on the student’s performance. In other words, the more the parent and teacher encourage the student by showing that they are sure he will succeed, the more success is increased. The opposite is also true, repeating to a child every day that he sucks and that he won’t succeed can devalue him, demotivate him and encourage him to try to save the image that we have of him by his results. This phenomenon is associated with the extra motivation and performance that can be seen when a student has an affinity with one of his teachers who particularly inspire him. Encourage your children and let them know that you know they can and will succeed!

- Lack of parental attention or disinterest (little interest in what the child or teen is thinking, experiencing or doing)

Some parents think they are giving their child time and attention, but in reality this is very limited. Extensive work schedules that take precedence over personal time, combined with the management of the household, explain this phenomenon in part, but they simply do not have the time for it. It is not the quantity that counts, but quality, and the child feels it. Sometimes the parent has little interest in the homework, the work done in class, the child’s social life and the child’s academic performance. This can also be associated with principled praise, insincere for results that only deserve encouragement to do better. All this is conceptualized by the child, over the years, he has the diffuse feeling of being neglected. If he doesn’t work for himself and he doesn’t work for his parents, then what is he working for? Of course, this cause alone cannot explain a school failure. The solution is to start taking a sincere interest.

- Lack of accountability and micromanagement of homework by parents

Homework micromanagement means constantly being behind the child, pushing him, checking every night what he has to do and what he has done, including the quality of his production and monitoring the progress of the work he has to hand in. In short, not allowing him any possibility of initiative and reducing his autonomy to nothing on the issue of school work. This ends up taking up all the space in the family relationship, generating endless conflicts. Putting autonomy and responsibility back into the process of managing the student’s school work and trusting him is imperative. Unfortunately, this also involves the inevitable experience of failure. Remember, individuals learn as much from their failures as from their successes. Failures are indispensable.

Of course, endogenous causes are also cumulative, including exogenous causes, some of which are linked, even redundant.

I encourage you to go deeper into all these points on your own if you feel the need, because it would be too long for this article to detail all these elements, since books have probably been written on each of these issues.

There are many other parameters such as the daily time spent in front of the television since the first grade, the student’s friends, his various activities, the training, the professionalism or the personality of the teacher(s), the learning methods, the lack of differentiation and I forget many.

It is important to remember that a situation of academic failure, even if it is momentary and could be resolved without support, must be evaluated as a whole in order to propose solutions that make sense.

What solutions to academic failure can coaching bring?


This is only an introduction to the services I can offer to young students who are failing at school. Please consult the site menu for more information about my training, my profile and my skills.

School failure due to endogenous causes is by no means a fatality and sometimes all it takes is a click, an awareness, a little projection to get out of it.
Coaching, which is nothing more than a problem-solving method involving introspection, reflection, questioning and the search for solutions, can help your child change, define a goal and reach it.

While parents try to be their child’s first “coach”, they don’t always have, despite their love and good will, the distance, the listening skills and a complete understanding of the situation, as well as the ability to make their child express himself, who may very well hold back a lot of information in order not to create a fuss. School failure means and reflects something different for each individual and as we have seen, the causes are multiple, sometimes delicate to discern, in children or adolescents who often refuse to dialogue.

Recourse to outside help can prove invaluable in order to better understand the real nature of the difficulties (lack of interest, stress, poor time management, risky behavior, friendships…). A very personalized approach is needed, adapted to each case, and the psychological approach is not always the most relevant or the most accepted. Moreover, it does not work on the same level as coaching, which focuses on concrete elements by encouraging questioning and the search for and implementation of solutions.
The coach is not there to teach young people to “do their homework”. The coach’s objective is to understand the obstacles, to make the young person aware of their existence and of their impact on his life and on his academic behavior, and then to accompany him so that he has a real appreciation of the situation, of his capacities and of the stakes, so that his behavior evolves and that he approaches his studies again in a positive perspective.

Going to see a “shrink” is something that often provokes reluctance in young people, which is less the case with coaches. Especially when they are aware that they are in a space of work and dialogue to find concrete solutions to their problem and not to evoke the potential causes of these problems indefinitely.

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The difference between influence and manipulation and the reasons for these behaviors

I am often astonished by the way these terms are used, whether in articles by bloggers or vloggers of varying quality, or in the literature and research in social psychology and clinical psychology, particularly the very trendy one on narcissism, whether it be the question of narcissistic personality or narcissistic perversion disorder.

This misunderstanding in the use of these terms led me to wonder.

Of course, there is an etymological difference between the two terms, but that is not the subject here.

In my opinion, we must focus on the meaning of these words, since they are used as a qualifier for an action.

For the Larousse dictionary, influence is the fact of an “Action, generally continuous, that something exerts on something or someone” and manipulation would be the “Action of directing the conduct of someone, of a group in the direction that one wishes and without them realizing it”.

This would imply that the fundamental difference between influence and manipulation is that the victim be or become aware of it.

Context would therefore also seem to play a role in being able to identify influence or manipulation through the examples offered: an example of political manipulation in one case, and television influencing youth in another.

Concepts that are intermingled in the collection of expressions using the term influence, we find; “subjected to a manipulation of ideological, psychological order.” Moreover, the use of the term “ideological” also refers to politics, which is in the collective unconscious undoubtedly correlated to manipulation.

In the case of the Larousse, the supposed boundary between the meanings of the two terms becomes tenuous if it still exists at all.

It is worth noting that the Petit Robert dictionary does not make this distinction.

I consider this distinction to be totally without logic, since there are many situations where one influences the other without them realizing it.

What about the influence of the sounds and sensations felt when the fetus is in the womb and which participate in the elaboration of its construction?

What to think of a first-grade teacher who, in order to ensure the motivation and investment of her students, introduces a system of good points for each good answer or good behavior, thus beginning the construction of the scaffolding and conditioning by preparing the future implementation of the grading system of school productions in order to support the competition, which will become the poor and surely never questioned engine of the motivation of the students during their entire studies.

Here we are in cases where the victim is not aware of it and is not conscious of it. Is it then a question of manipulation?

Given the examples you should be shocked at the use of the term manipulation to describe the source's action.

The dimension of the source's will is not addressed, although to some extent it is important. That said, the source may want to consciously influence or manipulate a victim, so this cannot be a distinguishing criterion.

It seems difficult to make the distinction between these two terms stand on this notion of consciousness alone, but if one is shocked at the idea of using the term manipulation in these examples, we may have put our finger on the problem.

Wouldn't the difference simply reside at the level of the representation and the subjective and suggestive projection of the word rather than at the level of the meaning?

Influence has an image of lightness, almost sometimes a component of “ignorability”, when manipulation has that “je ne sais quoi” of intolerability.

And it is perhaps here that the question of the etymology of the two words could be interesting in order to understand what in our history has made the word “manipulation” go over to the dark side. After all, we can quickly find an example since it is the one that was used to characterize the effects of Nazi propaganda on the German people, for example.

In both cases, it is an action on someone to ensure that something develops in a certain way, to generate something or a change and mainly (if not only) a behavior, even if it goes through different phases upstream, such as a change of idea.

Let me explain: when you want to trigger or change a behavior, advertisers or mass-marketing thinkers usually try to act on thoughts and opinions, which is why we talk about public opinion or “thought-provoking”, an important data for politicians. History has shown us that these processes can be effective. However, and it is funny to point this out, recent research in social psychology shows that this is not the most effective method, the one that will provoke change in the greatest number of people. Instead, it seems that the best way to change behavior is to “lead by example”, to show what others are already doing or thinking. Where possible, creating a competition would also work well. The behavior we seek to generate through mimicry, the desire not to be the last, or the desire to belong to the group will do the rest, to name just three processes.

One interesting example: a hospital was struggling to get its nurses to wash their hands when entering and leaving each room. So, they put up counters all over the place, counting the number of times everyone washed their hands and creating and showing rankings. The frequency of handwashing exploded, to the benefit of all patients.

The mere fact of giving information, whether it is “wash your hands every time to avoid spreading diseases in the hospital” or of the type “we must recycle, because it is better for the environment, the planet that we will leave to our children” is not enough to generate behaviors in a large number of people or to modify them. On the other hand, it would have been demonstrated (I don't have the source of the study) that it would be enough to display an Olympic medalist sorting his waste as an advertisement for the craze for “selective sorting” to increase massively, whereas the only information (stated above) would have a very weak impact.

If we try to change someone's mind, it is not simply for the beauty of the gesture or an all-consuming altruism in the best of cases, we generally have an interest in it, which, of course, goes beyond politics and is expressed in our daily lives.

It is this interest, the motor that pushes, naturally or not, instinctively or not, consciously or not, to influence others, regardless of the nature of the underlying intention.

It may be a need to control one's environment, to bend the other to the rules of our education, to feel listened to, to reassure oneself or to convince oneself that one is right, and this may go as far as generating a banal or important change in behavior: that the other person ends up thinking like us on a certain subject or that he stops leaving something lying around, that he shows us attention or a certain expected respect, or that he corresponds better to the image that we want to make of him or that we project on him. The motivations can be numerous as well as the expected changes in behavior varied.

The individual uses different techniques and some are more or less gifted, but that is not the point.

These examples obviously only concern daily life, however, whatever the context, the relationship is the same, the individual tries to influence or manipulate someone to satisfy himself.

Moreover, in both the private and public spheres, when this attempt fails, it can lead to conflict

These conflicts are an indicator and a confirmation of self-interested action, because we do not enter into conflict over things that do not affect us, have no stake in them, or are not important to us.

If we assume that the process of influence or manipulation has the same origin linked to the satisfaction of an individual or a group, the same action and a similar type of finality, then the two words designate the same thing.

The only difference between the words “influence” and “manipulation” then only exists in the collective unconscious, itself influenced by history, and the connotation of the referentials of the types of unacceptable behaviors to which the word “manipulation” can be associated, seeming to create a difference in the gravity of the process. It is as if there were a fusion between the acts that the process sought to promote and the process itself. However, the type of effects that these two words are used to describe are identical and in any case cannot be calibrated or differentiated on the notion of severity of the effects, which is perfectly subjective and often impossible to determine with accuracy.

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