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The Learning Success Blog

Peter Barnes

Peter Barnes has diverse background and experience that ranges from adult education & training in a human resources context, through learning & business innovation, to the leadership of large organisations. He has also worked in finance journalism, accountancy, and digital marketing.

Peter has been involved with the LearnFast Group since 2003, when he joined his wife, Devon, to help her manage the growth in the numbers of schools and individuals using LearnFast’s educational software programs to address language and literacy challenges for learners of all ages.

Peter is a passionate snow skier and has a wide range of interests – from mirror neurons, to American politics (and many others!). Peter has a vision for improving the education of future generations through the innovative and creative use of emerging technologies.

Recent Posts

Mothers and Mothers-To-Be: Memory & Learning Reduced by too Much Sugar

Posted by Peter Barnes on April 21, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Peter Barnes

Too much sugar, especially from soft drinks, may damage your child’s learning ability and memory.

That’s the finding from a study of the diets of more than 1000 pregnant women and their children.  The study included assessments of the children’s cognitive skills at ages 3 and 7.

This research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggests there may be learning benefits from reducing the sugar intake of women during pregnancy and limiting sugar consumption by their young children.  

Key findings include:

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Topics: Memory, Learning Capacity, Learning

50 Year study: Behaviour influences income more than IQ    

Posted by Peter Barnes on April 4, 2018 at 6:40 PM

Peter Barnes

New research shows behaviour in high school is a stronger predictor than IQ or socio-economic background of better jobs and higher income.  

The research has been published by the American Psychological Association based on data collected from 346,660 U.S. high school students in 1960 and follow up research 11 and 50 years later.

The 1960 high school phase measured a variety of student behaviours and attitudes as well as personality traits, cognitive abilities, parental socioeconomic status and demographic factors.

The follow-up surveys measured overall educational attainment, income and occupational prestige.

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Topics: School, Learning, Behaviour, Careers, Social & Emotional Learning

560 Sydney Primary Students Sign Pledge Against Bullying

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 25, 2018 at 10:37 AM

Peter Barnes

All 560 students at my granddaughter’s primary school in Sydney signed a massive banner with the pledge: “Standing Together Against Bullying”.

The banner is prominently displayed at the school’s entrance.  The mass signing is part of her school’s participation in the National Day of Action against Bullying & Violence.

Similar activities took place in many schools around Australia on March 16, 2018.

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Topics: Behaviour, Bullying, Social & Emotional Learning

How Do We Reduce Bullying in Our Schools?  NSW Government’s 4 Criteria

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 8, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Peter Barnes

A tiny minority in our community think kids who are bullied should just ‘suck it up” because it “builds character”. 

That’s nonsense.  It’s mid 20th century thinking. And even then it was a minority belief.

We now know that bullying can have devastating impacts. Students involved in bullying can develop behavioural and emotional problems and have trouble learning, according to many academic studies.

Parents and teachers know this, of course. They don’t need studies to tell them what they see happening to their children and students.

How can schools take a stand against bullying? 

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Topics: Bullying, Social & Emotional Learning

4 Year Old's First School Assignment: Make a Video & Post It Online

Posted by Peter Barnes on February 20, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Peter Barnes

My granddaughter has just done her first school assignment.

Like all the other children in her kindergarten class in her local state primary school she had to make a video about her family and upload it to a password protected website for all to share.

She is not quite five years old. And she’s using technology to communicate with others and express herself. It’s a 21st century show & tell.

I expect this little girl and her classmates probably didn’t think there was anything remarkable about that project. But it’s a significant example of how technology is becoming such an integral part of our lives.

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Topics: School

Jack Ma: Teach Soft Skills, Not Knowledge, to Compete with Machines

Posted by Peter Barnes on February 19, 2018 at 4:40 PM

Peter Barnes

“Only by changing education can our children compete with machines.”  That’s what Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba believes.  Alibaba is China’s largest e-commerce company. On some measures it is bigger than Amazon.com.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Ma said, “We cannot teach our kids to compete with machines.  Teachers must stop teaching knowledge. We have to teach something unique, so a machine can never catch up with us.”

Don’t teach knowledge based things from the past 200 years

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Topics: School

Social Skills Training Can Help Lonely Children

Posted by Peter Barnes on February 1, 2018 at 10:20 AM

Peter Barnes

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?  All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

 “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles (1966)

The stereotypical lonely old lady or man is what many people think of when confronted with the fact that there are lonely people all around them.

It's easy to understand why some old people may be lonely. They’re living alone. Their children may live far away, or they may not have children. These lonely men and women might have illnesses or physical disabilities that prevent them from easily leaving their homes to make or maintain friendships.

We don’t often think of children being lonely. But many are.

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Topics: Social Skills, Behaviour, Bullying, Social & Emotional Learning

Students with Better Social Skills Achieve Higher Test Scores

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 31, 2018 at 5:45 PM

Peter Barnes

Children who are co-operative, socially responsible and helpful in kindergarten achieve higher scores on reading, writing and numeracy tests in primary school, compared with children with less pro-social behaviour.

This is the finding from a 5-year study of more than 52,000 kindergarten students from nearly 2800 schools.  The study was led by Dr Rebecca Collie at the University of New South Wales School of Education. 

Test scores from the children’s NAPLAN (Australia’s National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) in 2012 and 2014 were compared for four different social and emotional behavioural profiles observed when they were in kindergarten:

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Topics: Writing, Social Skills, Literacy, Maths, Social & Emotional Learning, NAPLAN & PISA

Why Sullivan’s Mother got Fast ForWord for Autism Help: Address Root Causes

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 15, 2018 at 5:05 PM

Peter Barnes

Why did the mother of 9 year old autistic boy, Sullivan, choose the Fast ForWord program for him, when she had a multitude of interventions available?

And did this neuroscience–based program help him?

Sullivan’s mum writes a blog, Rethinkinglearning, where she has documented her journey since he was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

She writes:

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Topics: Autism, Fast ForWord

Read Aloud to Remember More 

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 15, 2018 at 12:38 PM

Peter Barnes

A new Canadian study shows people who read aloud are able to remember more.

This finding has implications both for older people and for students.

According to Medical News Today researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada put 95 people into four groups who:

  1.  Read silently
  2.  Listened to someone else read
  3.  Listened to a recording of themselves reading
  4.  Read out loud in real time.

The people in the group which read out loud had the best recall.  Those who read silently remembered the least. 

Read More

Topics: Memory, Reading, Reading Assistant

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