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Spotlight: Bradley Busch & Edward Watson

Authors of The Science of Learning, Bradley Busch and Edward Norton, talk to Colour Spotlight about some of themes in their book The Science of Learning

Artists, dancers, authors, entrepreneurs and the people behind some of the brands we work with inspire us every day. Each month, Colour Spotlight puts one of our clients in the hot seat, asking them three questions that dig deeper into their careers, latest ventures and future plans.

As the new school year kicks off and students settle back in, we talk to the authors of The Science of Learning: 77 Studies That Every Teacher Needs to Know. Chartered psychologist Bradley Busch and InnerDrive founder Edward Watson tell us about the art of successful praise, how stress can be good for you and what we can learn from gaming.

1. There are increasing numbers of news stories about increased levels of stress and anxiety amongst school children. What expertise and insight can you provide on this subject?

Bradley: It’s a dangerous myth that stress, in itself, is always the enemy. It’s not helpful to teach students that stress must be avoided at all costs. At the right level, stress can be your friend – it shows investment and shows you care about an outcome. Before exams, or indeed, before any important opportunity or event at any point in life, most of us would look back and say that a certain level of stress helped us do our best. Stress can be at your service and shouldn’t be feared or treated with too much avoidance. Properly understanding and teaching stress management techniques is a vital part of learning to perform well.

2. Teachers and parents often feel they have to give constant praise to help children learn and to feel positive generally. Can well-intentioned labels and praise be damaging sometimes?

Bradley: There is still a widely accepted ‘neuromyth’ that we have a logical versus a creative side of the brain. This often leads to the idea that students can be told they are good at one to the exclusion of the other. This kind of concept can stay with someone their whole life and be pretty inaccurate. What really matters is the ability to improve at something – not feeling you are naturally good at only one type of subject. Overall, we find that praising the process and giving purposeful praise (i.e. focusing on the behaviour that you want to see repeated in the future) has the most positive impact.

3. From your experience of working on computer games, what did you learn about immersive experience, motivation and ‘monotasking’ – that could be applied to motivating kids to learn?

Edward: It is not uncommon to observe complete immersion in a game and intense, efficient learning of new skills and strategies. The big question for me has always been how can we transfer the evident motivation to learn that computer game players have to the learning of everyday academic subjects. For me a starter towards this nirvana is inspirational teaching, persuading students to prepare to study as they do for a computer game and coaching them to treat the learning of a subject just like a game, as a puzzle that can be solved with effort, thought, good strategies and with help from the experts in the game. i.e. their teachers.

The Science of Learning: 77 Studies That Every Teacher Needs to Know, by Bradley Busch and Edward Watson, is out now, published by Routledge. To find out more about the book, its authors and Innerdrive, visit


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