Winner of the Education Initiative of the Year award, the Tougher Minds programme takes the insights of sports Psychology and applies them to the classroom, and more specifically, to revision.

The programme  uses successful sport techniques and develops them into revision practices. For example, they cite research that shows that golfers who hits shots with a varied sequence of clubs every day do better than golfers who practice with a different club each day and suggests that students can apply this to their revision by revising each subject in short bursts of twenty minutes every day, rather than setting a whole day aside for each subject . Through repetition, neurons form strong pathways, which the leader of the programme calls ‘turning cobwebs into cables’, which is something Biology students can investigate further.

The programme argues that we as a species are not well evolved for schoolwork. We still have the same cognitive framework as our prehistoric ancestors and the caveman in us wants short term rewards over long term development of skills. The development of the brain across time is something that Human Sciences students can research further.  Like athletes, students can  channel this desire for reward into developing confidence and optimising performance by taking time for self reflection.  

Jonny Wilkinson is cited as an example of the importance of Functional Equivalence. Jonny Wilkinson practiced his winning drop goal over and over during training, and it eventually won England the Rugby World Cup. But it’s not just about practising, it’s about trying to stimulate the conditions you will be tested in.  Students can improve their performance by practicing in ‘exam conditions’ regularly. All atheletes have a routine, both mental and physical, that they go through before training, playing a game or competing in a race.  This self discipline is what makes them successful – they have the ability to control their thoughts when things get tough. Students who can master this same single-mindedness in their revision and exams are much more likely to be successful, both at school and in the rest of their life. 

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