St. Patrick’s Day 2014: Ireland the Land of Learners

One of the great difficulties with education is that we attempt to fit everyone into the same box.  It is generally accepted that this does not happen but how else can we effectively teach the masses?  Well, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all that is Irish this is in fact the first mistake when thinking about teaching.  If we instead focus on the learners, the actual students and look at the world from their perspective we may begin to not only accommodate everybody but have them reach their full potential.  Most of all, even experience these people being happy and enjoying education.

So, if we take the learning nation of Ireland, what are we really like here?  We are a country stockpiled with sociable chatterboxes and have a huge number of successful athletics when you think about the size of this land.  We make an impact wherever we go and we are also very generous philanthropically for the size of Ireland.  We as a race contribute hugely to global charities, peace keeping forces and volunteer work.  We are hugely proud of anything remotely Irish.

So, in simple terms that makes us auditory and kinesthetic learners that need huge amounts of encouragement and praise.  We really care about what everyone else thinks of us.  So like most other parts of the world we are a largely extrovert society.  We need to work with others in social settings and we are very social beings.

The hugely interesting fact about auditory learners is that they do not need to just listen, they need to talk as well.  We all know how much we Irish love to speak.  The idea of us starting school at five and learning to be quiet in a classroom situation is just outright ridiculous.  We must admit that we work our way through so much in Ireland by gossiping. The information overload taxi driver, the restroom queue gossip or the local store conversation. It makes us better able to cope with the legendary Irish rainy weather if nothing else.

One of the real difficulties with being an auditory learner (besides just being in trouble in class for talking all of the time) is the rambling way we work, there is no structure.  This is the most common difficulty that many of our students have, especially all the super talkative kinesthetic boys who are brilliant on the sports field but feel like trash at everything else in school.  They simply have no idea how to structure an answer or to focus their thoughts onto the page at hand.

Sure, for the Irish it is perfectly alright and acceptable to write exactly the way you talk too.  The best way to work with auditory kinesthetic learners is through role play.  This is sociable group work that allows us to talk out scenarios.  We get to put ourselves in the situation and we all do great in this part of oral school examinations.  We are a country filled with bucket loads of generationally provided and divided political views.  It is important for us to get to talk about these at length on a regular basis.

Students almost fall off of their chairs with shock when we ask them what they think or have a personal opinion on, but it is so much easier to write about what you feel especially when this is what matters to you when you are kinesthetic.  Normally boys just get to run this out of their systems on the sports field rather than working through it in english or history class.

It is equally vital to allow us Irish to talk about everything that matters to us in our own unique way.  The Irish have a great gift of the gab, the wit that has a name for every object, landmark and sculpture.  We talk about creativity and innovation, this is a wonderful example of innovation with words.  We can express any situation as a joke.  We have always been gifted story tellers and can spin any yarn.

We are also hugely competitive, hence our many sporting heroes, the mark we leave whatever we set our minds to.  Competition is such a great way to inject energy into any learning environment too.

There is a pride deeply engrained in the Irish and as a result we can never cope with being made a fool of in public.  We may try to joke our way out of any situation but it hurts deeply.  Everyone we have ever spoken to in this country has a school story where they lost face and they have never forgotten it.  This is why we have to focus on the learners always, the real people we are helping to grow and develop.  Everyone is different but we all fall into patterns of behavior that can be accommodated.  You can't just take an education model from one country to another and expect it to work, especially since the models are always developed for the teachers and governments not the students.  There are very simple patterns and learning styles but you have to look for them and you have to use each nations strengths and values to achieve what is important for them, even the Irish.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the island of saints and scholars.

Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly & Marie O'Riordan



Purple Success™ as featured in The Irish Examiner

Large article & photo in Irish Examiner national newspaper with the headline “Helping Others Realise Their Dreams”

“Working apart they are successful; together they are pure dynamo.” Irish Examiner

Link to Full Online Version of the article


A Year in Perspective – 2012

I encourage everyone to do this - What did I learn this year? What did I do? One of my Idols Francoise Dolto ran a radio program across France for years, she was a household name, a little like our own Gay Byrne... but she would never accept people phoning in to ask questions. She insisted that everyone wrote in as she believed that by sitting down to write you were half way to working out the problem for yourself. The act of writing the letter had made you think about the situation in the same way I reflect every year! This is the key to development. You have to constantly think about where you have come from and where you are going....

January - I started the year with a full page in the Irish Examiner on Homework... A topic I was to be later introduced in November as a "leading expert on." This was never an aspiration of mine... it wasn't in the PhD! But  you can't start a year much better than a whole page in a National newspaper 🙂 The Homework Club was three which passed in a haze of activity!

February - This was the formation month of the Confidence Club and we were set to work in the background on the logo, web design and all the rest.

March - I wrote The The Purple View to start to bring all the methods and research of the last three years of the Homework Club together. 

One review for the book Review for The Purple View

I didn't go to Oprah for the sake of the school and the students .. accepting the opportunity would have meant upending the terms and evaluations of the mocks - when the results can out in August and September I was really happy with my decision! We also started the use of "sound" research in the background to put into place for May and June when everyone would be really stressed! We had a sound guru come to explain to the whole team what the difference frequencies of music do to our brain. I have now taken the work to use on ADD and Aspergers students to create outlets for stress. We are also using meditation to help with Confidence!

April - I was back on the radio to support French parents who were boycotting homework in France - French Primary school students are not suppose to get any! I couldn't agree more. There really is more to everyone's life than homework.

May - This was the start of the methods and environment creation going outside The Homework Club. I was part of a business workshop in Cork where we set up the room and the experence to suit all the different learning styles in the room! Really exciting to see the environment created for adults!

June - it goes without saying that the whole time all of these other "highlights" were taking place I was still running a school and looking after a large amount of students. We had survived the character crushing season of the mocks and were now in the throws of the exams. I had high hopes for everyone and though to be honest for the first time ever there were a few people who were so borderline we had to put all our efforts into keeping everyone positive. I think it was the worst year to sit the leaving in decades but everyone got through! and even the people who we worried most about made it on to a course ... a path for the future! We packed up the school, The Homework Club which was a hugely emotional time for everyone involved but I feel it was time to move on to the next stage and keep developing. 

July - no work as I got married! Though I did wake up on the morning of my birthday with the term Expression Developist™ - I don't fit in anyone else's box so I made a new one ...

August - I came back to head straight off to the London Olympics ... it was the most fantastic experience to be in London for this special occasion... I learnt so much and filled note books on what I saw which will all go towards the new book. For me it did inspire!

August also saw the start of the Confidence Club and being able to support students across the planet not just in a small area of Dublin...I also started formally working in the business world using my own brand of profiling to reinvent business people, Purple Profiling. This has meant me working across the globe and has increased my understanding of how the patterns I saw in a school in Blanchardstown are universal for all ages, cultures and environments! I can't wait to write the book! Of course the Leaving cert results were amazing - and I always wish I could tell the stories of determination and success. 

September - My favourite time of the year as it is Fringe Season! I had a ball as usual and my favourite show was "I'm not ADHD I'm just Bold". This was the month of the amazing Junior Cert Results - I see every year that it makes such a difference when we start working with people younger. We can really set people up for life rather than trying to get them through and find all the alternative paths ... It felt like together we had proven everyone wrong about what dyslexics in particular can and can't do!

I was part of my first training session at Croke Park and mentored my first athletes "outside" of the school environment .. setup the workshop environment for a training session at the University of Limerick... all really exciting on top of the Confidence Club and Business Profiling that has been ongoing since August!

October- Wrote a book proposal for the new book and am actively seeking a publisher! It seemed to be photo competition season... my other passion in life - I also finished a painting! It seemed to help me think away from the computer or pen! It's been about putting everything together that I have learnt to date...

November - Saw a return to radio a year since I had first started the debate on homework. There has been a radical change in how we now approach it too - since I haven't got it abolished yet, I'm working directly with parents to make it doable and reduce the time and stress spent on it. If you can't beat it conquer it! I also had several meetings that it has felt like I have spent two years prepping and working myself up to. I was filmed by RTE television as part of program to be aired in January ... This month has felt like the setup for next year!

December - will be London 12 12 12  .....


My Year Dr. Naoisé now an Expression Developist™ 




Welcome to the Confidence Club

One step closer to fulfilling a personal dream of mine - "to make school a happier, creative, more successful and enjoyable place for all students, regardless of their differences"... Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly

There is always a balance between making long term changes in education and supporting those people currently in the system!

One of the many reasons why Students attending The Homework Club become so successful is because of the awareness they have of their own Potential, Personality and Learning Style and how these effect their own educational success. Every Student at The Homework Club is set-up to work to their best abilities within the environment through an initial interview.

The Confidence Club now offers this service to everybody, especially those restricted through distance and who aren't able to attend our classes at The Homework Club.