Do you talk teen?

9th September 2015 | Tim Benton | Parents


Confused by what your teenage son or daughter is doing online? The i published this handy guide the other day! You may find it useful to de-code what mischief they are actually up to!



Who’s in the driving seat?

8th September 2015 | Tim Benton | Motivation

I used to have a SAT NAV.  When it worked, it was great and I became very reliant on it getting me where I needed to go.  Maybe a little too over-reliant…

A few years back, I had to speak at a school in Bedfordshire.  I fell out of the hotel, first thing in the morning, and got into the car.  Fixing the SAT NAV to the dashboard, I typed in the school’s postcode.  The SAT NAV led the way:

“Turn left at the end of the road…. “

“At the mini round-about, take the second exit… “

“Continue for one mile…”

We kept going.

“Turn right…”

Further instructions were followed and it eventually informed me:

“You have reached your destination.”

I looked out the window.  Was this right?

I was around the back of Bedford rail station.  There was a burnt out car, a supermarket trolley, a skip with a mattress in it, and some homeless guy talking to his own shoes! This did not look like a school!

It wasn’t a school.  Flippin’ SAT NAV got it wrong!!!

A few minutes later, and after some hasty map reading, the SAT NAV was back in the glove box and I was speeding my way to the school.  The SAT NAV had taken me 2 miles in the wrong direction and I was nowhere near where I needed to be!  Fortunately I arrived, just in the nick of time…

I learned a valuable lesson that day.  I had been so used to my SAT NAV telling me where to go, I’d stopped thinking for myself.

Some of you may be like that; your teachers or friends are doing your thinking for you and you are getting to a point where you can’t think for yourself.  It’s what psychologists call ‘learned helplessness’: if someone does something for you too much, you will struggle to do it yourself!

Remember: All answers are good, not necessarily correct.  A wrong answer is always better than ‘I don’t know’.  A good guess on an exam paper is better than writing nothing (and you may still get marks for what you put).

Google maps on my iphone is brilliant (much better than my old SAT NAV) and it helps it me no end.  But I don’t follow it blindly anymore – I always check it’s taking me to the right place (eg St Ives in Cornwall not St Ives in Cambridgeshire!).

Sometimes, Google is wrong.

If you don’t end up where you wanted to be – don’t blame someone else, find your own path.

Make your own map!

Revision C.A.T.S.

3rd September 2015 | Tim Benton | Revision

Revision! We all hate it, we all need to do it.

Reading The Brain Box will help you take the pain out of painstaking and if you remove the pain, you’re just left with staking which is an anagram of skating, and skating is fun! See – it’s all about how we see these things…

Confused?  Never mind – this will help:

Cats have an easy life.  Frankly, I’d like to be a cat!  Here’s how we can all be revision CATS:


Don’t just stare at the page.  Try and do something a bit creative with your revision – draw a mindmap, make some cards, do a poster, tweet friends, make an mp3 file of you speaking out loud what you need to learn.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”

– Albert Einstein.


Think you can do it? If you believe you are more likely to achieve.  Hard work and a positive attitude are proven to give students great results in their exams.

What does a poor attitude look like: not believing you are capable… trying to ‘wing it’ without any work… Not caring how you do…  Assuming everything will be alright and thinking you don’t need good grades. Be wise! Get a good attitude.

“If you can believe, you can achieve. Innit.” – Dizzee Rascal.


Plan your time.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Break your revision into 15 minute chunks.

Plan to spend a minimum time revising each day.  This could be 15minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours.  But once you’ve decided how much you will do, stick to it.

Have a revision planner of some sort (see our Two Great Methods in The Brain Box book)

“Procrastination is the thief of time.” ~ Edward Young

Strengths (and weaknesses)

Play to your strengths and try to work on your weaknesses.

Do you work best straight after school or later in the evening? Are you better first thing in the morning?

Do you work better alone or with others?

Do you find doodling helps or hinders?

If your X-Box is a massive distraction, unplug it while you are working.  We heard of one student who took his games console into school and asked his form tutor to lock it away until after the exams!!

Does it help you to revise online or do you just end up playing games, going on social networking sites and wasting the time?

“If you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life.” ~ Confucius

Work smart not hard.

Use the revision CATS!


Tim Benton is an associate of Independent Thinking Ltd and co-author of The Brain Box. He is also the lead practitioner at Blue Caterpillar.