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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘society’

Are the Tories sitting on an Election Winner?

The received wisdom of the political pundits is that 2005 will be an election year. It doesn’t need to be, of course. Constitutionally Tony Blair can go on to May 2006; but prime ministers often like to put themselves to the vote after 4 years – especially if they think they are ahead of the Opposition and/or they think things are likely to get worse. The Labour Government looks tired and no longer so sure of itself – particularly in terms of  policies. (For example, House of Lords reform is bogged down and the fox hunting ban is a mess.) Blair is unpopular with much of his own party and much of the country – tainted by his unremitting support for the American war on/in Iraq. The media continue to speculate on just how sour relations are between Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown. And the Prime Minister’s unequivocal public support for Home Secretary David Blunkett right upto the morning of his forced resignation has once again brought into question his judgement. With the Government seeming to stumble from one poor/unpopular decision to another, you would think Blair would want to hang on as long as possible in the hope of things somehow improving. That to go to the… Read More

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

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