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Impulsive thoughts and positive thinking... and fun!

Ray Petersen
Ray Petersen

Impulsive thoughts can be seen as a positive or a negative I guess, and a group of budding teachers and I had a discussion recently concerning reflective and impulsive learners. What? You ask.

Reflective learners are those who will contemplate, think about a response, before giving it. The ultimate reflective learner will think along the lines of what they are learning, why, how they are learning and then using what they are learning, and how does it fit within their learning process including their eventual learning objectives. They won’t take ‘all day’ to think about their

responses, but have learned to process everything in this manner.

On the other hand the impulsive learner is the one that we all remember from our school days, as the kid who probably sat in the front row and blurted out an answer to half of the teacher’s questions before they had finished the question. The same kid who always has their hand up, waving it, or punching the air repeatedly, effectively saying “pick me, I know,” with such insistence. They can be an irritant, humorous, and are sometimes helpful, as they give the less impulsive kids time to get their thoughts together.

Neither is ‘better’ than the other, having more value or intelligence than the other, although as teachers we probably consider the reflective learners more ‘effective,’ from a classroom management perspective, the alternative being a ‘loose cannon’ at times if you don’t harness their enthusiasm and positivity effectively. In fact I commented to my education students too that there are “many ‘shades of gray,’ across these learning styles too, as few will be at the extremities of the entire learning spectrum, but will certainly be identifiable as one or the other.”

I mean, it’s not as if we look at our pupils and students and go, “impulsive, impulsive, reflective, impulsive, reflective,” no. That would be just too judgmental and almost divisive, but we do learn to identify those qualities in our pupils and students and look to develop and maximise them by using a range of activities to develop a broader learning style without taking away their

innate skills and style.

So where am I heading with this?

It is a reminder that we are all different in so many ways, and that how we act, respond, and make decisions reflects our personality and temperament, ironically another topic for educational discussion. But the thing is that sometimes I feel we think too much about what we are going to do, and that our passion, joy and enthusiasm need to be kept as elements of our decisions and responses.

You want to jump out of a plane? Do it! You want to write a book? Just do it! You want to say ‘hi’ to someone, for whatever reason? Please, do it! Get a new hairstyle? Take up a new activity? Go back to college? Fall in love? Go on, be impulsive and do it! What’s the worst that can happen is that you can fail, and failure is just learning, just a factor in success, or as Robert Orben

wrote, “time-released success.” You gotta like that!

You have to, sometimes, just be a little bit selfish and do what you want to do, and what’s good for you. Don’t worry about what others may say or think, they will have made their minds up far earlier than your actions, and you worrying about it will never change their thoughts or pronouncements. Also, don’t consider failure because that’s going to be counterproductive to your objectives, and thinking about failure, according to David Schwarz, “conditions

your mind to think other thoughts that produce failure.”

Maybe you can call it the power of positive thinking, in fact, call it what you like, but make it happen! Positive thoughts condition you to create scenarios that have success as the only outcome, so that’s a great road to go down, isn’t it?

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