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Happy Confident Movement

Preparation for a new world

So much has changed in our world since the early 20th century.
But why is education stagnating?


Our education system has to prepare our young for the world ahead. It should equip them with the knowledge and skills that they need – not just to survive, but to make the most of their potential and talents. We need a much greater focus on skills and less emphasis on knowledge. Our education curriculum has not kept pace with changes in technology. Academic knowledge and subject matter expertise are valued more highly than skills. Academic higher education is still widely promoted as the pinnacle of learning to the extent that around half of the UK’s school leavers now go to University. In response our education system and its core curriculum has changed very little. Instead we have become fixated with ever greater testing of students.

It feels sometimes as if we are trying to show that our kids are getting smarter and with their better grades they will magically be able to cope with everything that is put in front of them.

What we need is to develop and nurture the essential skills the new generation needs so handle the challenges they are facing today. Critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity skills are way more useful than a suitcase full of A* grades and degrees. Put simply it’s no longer what you know, its what you do with what you know. And just as we have refined our ways of assessing academic knowledge, we have to find a way to better evidence these critical soft skills.

Kids may only be 25% of the world’s population, but they are 100% of our future.

The Key Factors to change the education system

Despite efforts in some developing countries to make children feel good in order for them to do better, the majority of the world is still reproducing an antiquated system where children are made to feel wrong or bad in order to do better. The whole system is based on punishing children – whether it is through bad grades or punishment at home – in order to motivate them to do better. This makes children feel bad and even that they are ‘wrong’. When human beings are made to feel bad and ‘wrong’, they develop coping/defence mechanisms in order to survive and these mechanisms shape the rest of their lives. They end up living out of guilt and fear of being made to feel wrong again and will do everything in order not to feel this way again, thus often shutting off their feelings. When we focus on making children feel better by addressing their core needs, they flourish and do things out of deep inner motivation rather than out of fear.

To help children become the best possible version of themselves and not be stigmatised by their education, basic principles of psychology and particularly social psychology, ie. understanding of human behaviour in social situations, should be part of everyone’s learning. For both teachers and parents, it would allow them to better understand children’s needs and be able to address those needs without stigmatising children – as this unfortunately sometimes happens to help them thrive.

As knowledge is readily available thanks to the internet, soft skills and emotional intelligence have become much more important to succeed. Research shows that emotional intelligence determines 75% of success, compared to only 25% for IQ.

Life skills such as self-awareness, better regulating feelings, and developing a growth mindset, resilience, perseverance and empathy, are key to allowing children (and their educators!) to become better human beings and ensure the new generation contributes to making this world a better place. This would have a significant societal impact.

The current education curriculum is in strong need of modernisation. It needs adapting to include the social emotional learning and like skills described above and also needs important modifications at the core as children are taught information that they hardly use in their daily lives. Schools should focus a lot more on teaching children ‘how to learn better’ and more effectively rather than just memorise information that children won’t be using during their lives. So for example, even though we certainly want to develop children’s memory, most of the exams should be ‘open book’ and focus on the thought process and writing and thinking skills rather than pure memorisation.
Another key example is the history curriculum, which – because it is taught chronologically – teaches children that the current world was shaped by a series of war, all led by men, and hence reproducing the current patriarchal stereotypes that we want to get rid of. The curriculum also teaches children that millions of people had to die in the process, and they are taught this at an age where they cannot even comprehend this and makes death by war almost ‘normal’ (even if teachers can explain that these were horrible times!).

Creativity is often associated with art and some children are told that they are not creative from a young age. This has to change, as creativity has to be fostered across the education system to inspire open mindedness and curiosity, and help children think ‘outside of the box’.

Children’s happiness and confidence starts at home, and many parents are sometimes oblivious of the impact of their behaviour on their children. We all have to pass a driving test to drive a car but we don’t get the basic psychology necessary to educate our children. It is time to change this and ensure parents have the tools to help their children thrive.

Play is scientifically proven as one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills. So more engaging and playful programmes need to be developed to help children better connect with and develop their emotional intelligence and mental wellbeing.

Sky News interview

Early intervention is key

Kids Don’t Come With a Manual is beautifully presented and really easy to read – a compendium of all the best advice from parenting research, based on the authors’ real-life experience. I love the Troubleshooting section at the back. It’s the book I would’ve liked when I was a parent.

Sue Palmer
Former Headteacher and Author of Toxic Childhood

We have bought copies of the Happy Confident Me Journal for our Year 6s as we think it is brilliant and it is a fantastic resource. The journal provides them with the perfect opportunity to reflect over the weeks, to process what is happening and to have a better understanding of themselves, making them more resilient.

Sarah Schaeffer
St Philip Howard Catholic School

The Happy Confident Me Journal is one of the most important element of our wellbeing packs as it ensures the children we work with have a journal that helps them to express and understand their feelings, helping them with their development and regulating their emotions. It is fantastic that a resource like the Happy Confident Me Journal exists and that we can help children by providing them with it.

Natasha Barley, Director,
Hull & East Yorkshire Children s University

Who can Help?

Corporates:
CRS – help your communities, put money into programmes,
(after COVID – up to 30% of employees will work from home – parenting skills / peace at home will become a core topic. Support your employees)

Media:

  • Help raise awareness
  • Educational programmes
  • Funding
  • PR

Educators & Therapists:
Join the movement and co-create, become a change agent, help raise awareness, educate yourself, learn.

Individuals:
Join the movement, use our products, co-create

Societal outcome

Our modern societies have become very lonely and disconnected. Many of us long to connect, to have deep conversations, to reveal what we feel and share authentically, to bond, and to experience being there for each other. When our lives are being disrupted, when we are going through important shifts, when we have so many conflicting thoughts and feelings … in times like these we need safe and brave spaces to come together, to build and foster a deeper connection and to cultivate community and hope.