Hi Everyone, my name’s Errol. I’m an ex-professional basketball player, long-time motivational speaker and now Head of Personal Development at Big Life Project.
The ability to self-actualise and build confidence can be tricky to teach. It’s different from teaching the core subjects that teachers spend most of their time on. It’s not about detracting from their academic skills, but building new, equally important skills that serve as a critical foundation and complement everything they learn at school and beyond.
Many teachers do an excellent job teaching aspects of personal development. In the practice of many teachers, skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership are woven into the fabric of their lessons. Students who participate in extra-curricular lessons like sport or performing arts also develop some of these skills without even realising it. My aim is to make sure every student gets the opportunity to develop their ‘soft’ skills, and to make sure that teachers have the resources to teach them with ease and effectiveness.
Personal Development is best taught when it steps away from the largely didactic teaching methodology of classical academic lesson structures and focuses on experiential, immersive learning as its main tool of instruction. It’s not that it can’t ever be taught like other subjects, but fact-based learning isn’t the best approach. It’s like trying to insert a screw using a hammer. The hammer will do ‘a’ job … but it’s not the most effective method of insertion for a screw, and certainly not most effective for long term sustainability. If I had attempted to learn to shoot a basketball solely by my coach lecturing about shooting mechanics then my sporting career would have been non-existent. The effective development of soft skills is no different. Teaching personal development didactically is like using the hammer. Students might end up learning the subject from a theoretical point of view, but it’s in the experiential practice where the magic happens.
The ‘practice’ I’m talking about is a key part of how I teach. Standard teaching methods will teach a student about leadership skills, but to truly, deeply know about leadership you have to have the opportunity to experience leading! I’ve met academically brilliant students who had difficulty organising their friends to accomplish a task simply because they’d never had to do it before. Teaching using an experiential methodology opens the door to an entirely new way for them to learn. My most fun and engaging classes, for both myself and my students, have been driven by games, processes and exercises designed to get everyone involved, demonstrating what they know rather than just ‘saying’ what they think they know. You can create a safe and stimulating experience in which students have the opportunity to make mistakes in an environment that both stretches and nurtures them and yet never feels punishing. It’s an amazing vehicle for them to build confidence and develop skills that will stay with them their whole life.
The working world they will one day enter is becoming increasingly competitive. More often than not, what will set graduates apart isn’t the ‘piece of paper’ they receive as evidence of the skills and knowledge they acquired during their course of study. It’s important, but in this global economy where dozens upon dozens of applicants may have the same certification, the question arises; ‘what will make you stand out?’ In my humble opinion, it comes down to effective personal development and the attainment and ownership of critical soft skills. Making eye contact, establishing rapport with others, speaking with confidence, being able to sell yourself, leading a team, solving problems, working effectively within a team. These and a multitude of other interpersonal competencies demonstrate someone who is not only equipped with the specialist knowledge of their respective industry, but the ability to get the job done no matter what myriad situations they may encounter. Growing that skill-set takes some time, effort and dedication, but it’s one of the most useful skills they’ll ever learn. And once they have it, nobody can take it away.
If you’re a teacher or Educational Establishment and don’t always have the resources to teach vital life skills to your students, contact us today at Big Life Project Company and find out how we can help!
ABOUT ERROL SEAMAN
Errol is a seasoned lecturer, speaker, author and former professional basketball player, who has extensive experience teaching within the further education sector. Errol has trained with some of the best personal development instructors in the industry such as Les Brown, Bob Proctor, Steve Siebold and Clinton Swaine. He uses his impactful, innovative and unique experiential games and exercises to help his students to develop critical Personal Development Skills for Life Long Success