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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Gravesian’

Credit Card Suicides??

For an hour or so on the morning of Thursday 11 March it was one of the lead stories on the news broadcasts. Then, understandably, the unfolding horror of the Madrid train explosions wiped it off the news as surely as the bombers wiped out some 200 commuters. Yet the story of Stephen Lewis stayed with me. A 37-year-old family man, with a reasonable job and a salary of £22,000 (not unreasonable; around the national average), had killed himself in July 2003 after running up over £65,000 in credit card debt. With his window, Susan, still being harrassed by the credit card companies seeking to recover their money, she and MP John Mann were working the broadcast studios and newspaper offices that fateful morning of 11 March to draw attention to the human cost of Britain’s credit card boom. Stephen Lewis, it appears, in his desperation, had been running up debts on some of his credit cards to effect demanded minimum payments on others. As a short-term strategy, that was sustainable as long as Lewis could support it by taking on new credit cards. At the time of his death he had a staggering 19 cards! Yet obviously the overall debt… Read More

Formation more than Education

I find that one of the more interesting aspects of my part-time return to secondary school teaching is that of being a form tutor. The role has a pastoral element built into it not obviously present in classroom teaching or general school management. For someone interested in the development of children and young people and how their psychology affects their performance at school (and beyond), the role of form tutor offers possibilities of making the kind of difference that most other roles in school life don’t. What’s more, a good form tutor can create a climate of trust that enables members of his or her tutor group to open up and confide some of the turbulence going on inside their teenage heads. Recent examples I’ve had to deal with include a 14-year old girl distraught because her mother had started calling her “fat” and “ugly” over the past few months – having previously tended to tell her daughter how beautiful she was. Investigation revealed that the catalyst for the change in Mum’s behaviour was the arrival on the scene of a new serious boyfriend. It looked pretty much to me like Mum was belittling her daughter because the daughter (who was… Read More

Does Hull have a Race Relations Problem?

On the evening of Friday 25 July in my home town of Hull, two groups of men – one white and composed of locals and the other said to be made up of Iraqis and Kurds – fought each other in the Spring Bank and Pryme Street area of Hull. Knives and clubs were brandished. Fortunately police intervened rather speedily and no one was seriously injured – though several cars were badly damaged. 15 arrests were made for “offences ranging from racially-motivated behaviour to carrying an offensive weapon” (Hull Daily Mail). Trouble flared again between the two groups around about 5 PM the following day (26th) and another 14 arrests were made. The trouble was supposedly sparked by the arrest earlier on the Friday of a white man in connection with an attack on an Iraqi man the previous Sunday night (20 July). In that incident the victim had been attacked by a group of white men in the Pryme Street car park and hit with a baseball bat. He ran off along Freetown Way but was knocked down by a vehicle which one of the white men drove onto the pavement to hit him. “Other cars driven by the group… Read More

Hull OFSTED hits the Mark – but misses the Point!

After months of speculation in the media and undoubtedly trepidation at the Guildhall (seat of Kingston Upon Hull City Council) and in Essex House (the headquarters of Hull’s Local Education Authority), the results of the inspection last September by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) have been made public. 2002 was a bad year for Hull Education. The city returned to the bottom of Britain’s GCSE league tables after managing one place above bottom the previous year and slumped 11 places down the primary league tables. Director of Learning Peter Fletcher, in post only a year or so, held Hull’s headteachers accountable for the GCSE league table performances last Summer while the Hull Daily Mail screamed out its headline, ‘Do you care?’  at parents who allowed and even facilitated truanting by their children. The OFSTED report has largely upheld these two positions. Fletcher and Essex House get off pretty lightly while headteachers are criticised for not being focussed enough. However, it is parents and the truancy issue which seems to have most vexed the inspectors. Since the LEA is considered to be pursuing a robust anti-truancy policy – truancy sweeps in conjunction with Humberside Police have made local headlines several… Read More

A Tale of 2 Councils…and the Real Challenge facing Simone Butterworth and Jim Brooks

The county of North Lincolnshire and my home town of Hull are virtually neighbours. Just 5 miles of the A63 through the East Riding of Yorkshire and a mile or so of the Humber Bridge separate them. North Lincolnshire Council has been awarded Beacon Council status. Following a damning Audit Commission report, Kingston Upon Hull City Council is under serious threat of some form of central government intervention unless, by December 2002, it can show demonstrable progress against its remedial Action Plan. Why such different scenarios for two local authorities geographically so close? Systemic thinking? Nothing symbolises the differences between the two councils more than the critical field of Education. For it is its strategies in Education that have seen North Lincolnshire achieving Beacon status in two consecutive years. (Although the Beacon award was specifically for Education, to achieve the award, the Council per se has to be perceived as a high-performing local authority.) By comparison Hull has been bottom of the GCSE league tables for 4 years out of the past 5; the year it wasn’t bottom, it was next to bottom. There are those in Hull who look enviously at the semi-affluent farming communities around Scunthorpe. They proclaim that, if… Read More

Needed: New Ideas for Hull Education

So Hull, the city where I live, is back at the bottom of the UK’s GCSE league tables, Education Director Peter Fletcher is arranging for the headteachers of the city’s 15 secondary schools to appear before the leaders of the City Council and the Hull Daily Mail is once again devoting acres of space to what it terms a “devastating blow” and hinting darkly at retribution. After 4 consecutive years of being the worst-performing local education authority in the country, Hull climbed up one place in 2001 to leave Knowsley in Merseyside languishing at the bottom. This year Knowsley “leapfrogged” (according to the Mail) over Hull, to put the city back at the bottom. The furore, though, masks an important point. Hull schools and their Year 11 students actually improved over 2001’s performance. Only by 1.1% – but an improvement nonetheless! Knowsley simply improved more than Hull and thus managed to lift itself off the bottom. This, however, should not take away from the fact that Hull did improve. An undoubted contribution to this improvement has been the performance of Kingswood High School. Located on the sprawling and troubled Bransholme Estate, 2 years ago Kingswood was Britain’s single worst-performing school. Now the school is out… Read More

So What is a MeshWORK?

Following the visit of Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck to South-East Wakefield in June 1999, there was much excited talk in certain circles of a ‘Wakefield MeshWORK’. This piece first appeared in the July 1999 edition of the SESKU & Hemsworth Business News, written to capture the key principles for a MeshWORK strategy and has been reproduced here. From some 16 years work in South Africa – during which time he advised both Nelson Mandela and F W DeKlerk – Don Beck has evolved his concept of MeshWORKS. This is an application of Spiral Dynamics which Beck developed with National Values Center partner Chris Cowan from the ground-breaking work of Clare W Graves. Early in the 1950s Graves, an admirer of the work of Abraham Maslow (1943), had set out to collect evidence on the ‘psychologically healthy human being’, expecting to validate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The data he gathered only partly achieved this. Unusually for a psychologist, Graves let his data do the talking – rather than trying to force-fit it to a theory. He also collected more data. A lot of it! What Graves discovered was 8 different core ways of thinking about life – attitudes, value systems, coping… Read More