AN AMAZING JOURNEY…
Ross McWilliam talks to Jan Woolley about how he has used his experience as a teacher to develop fun educational guides that will help youngsters become confident, employable adults
Former teacher Ross McWilliam has worked all over the world, but for the past five years he has been working here in Lancashire on developing a unique educational resource to help youngsters develop a confident mindset so they can reach their full potential in life.
Published earlier this year and about to become an online package, ‘The Amazing Journey of CUPPA’ is aimed at teachers and parents and is accompanied by a separate activity book for children providing fun and engaging tasks helping them in decision-making and the development of self-esteem and confidence, but with many implicit or subtle growth mindset messages, which are part of this prevalent developmental area within education.
Whilst Ross has targeted the book at the educational sector, it is also a valuable resource for families, positioning it for young people as they transition from primary to secondary school as well as those youngsters in areas of education and sport, where performance is key. He hopes the book will help them reach their full potential in terms of Challenges, Uniqueness, Positivity, Perception and Action – hence the name CUPPA.
CUPPA’s quest to find the five secrets of the confident mindset sees him and a series of quirky characters embark on a series of fun adventures that demonstrate how children can have a realistic and confident approach to life and how to deal with difficulties.
A teaching professional’s review of the book said: “Adults and children alike will be both challenged and educated through the interactive and measurable medium of The Amazing Journey of CUPPA!”
Having gained his teaching degree at Leeds, author Ross went on to study for a Masters at Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada. A keen sportsman, he suffered a serious knee injury as a 24-year-old, which ended his sporting career and changed his career and life.
His lifelong work with young people and his work within schools in the UK, Canada, the USA and Saudi Arabia, left him asking questions as to why children didn’t seem to believe in themselves, especially when faced with challenges and given choices. “For youngsters to develop a positive mindset and a belief in themselves is vital,” he says.
“Young people also need to learn that choices have consequences so making the right choice is important.”
Inspired by his late father and niece, who despite having learning difficulties had no fear of people judging her, Ross began to truly understand how and why young people (and not so young people) can develop a confident mindset – even in the face of adversity.
He realised that early intervention was crucial if young people are to develop a resilient self-confidence on a permanent basis.
Crossing the primary-secondary divide presents an ideal opportunity to deliver these key components of emotional development – but it can also be a fragile time when there is increased peer pressure, appearance anxieties and need for approval.
The CUPPA guide consist of a children’s book which features a blend of fictional characters delivering factual messages and content that promotes learning how to develop an emotionally confident mindset.
“It also helps them think logicially and sensibly,” says Ross.
Engaging and fun, the guides include PHSE development opportunities and introduces Ofsted key issues such as social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects that are easily absorbed into the curriculum.
Along the journey youngsters are asked to make decisions and answer questions, there are also discussions on praise – as to whether it is effective, embracing failure and success, facing new challenges and what it’s like for youngsters living in a media obsessed world.
Many ‘missions’ end with a ‘measuring tool’ so youngsters can see how they are improving and QR codes that link to videos that bring CUPPA to life online.
“Because the books are fun, it is a very subtle learning experience. Having taught all over the world, I believe that you have to be very creative with kids so they keep ahead.”
Within the resources there is an animated introductory trailer and an online reading option where the book is in an audible version.
Ross’s quest to publish the educational guides began in 2012 and since then he has delivered fun learning to hundreds of schools reaching over 200,000 pupils – bridging the gap between education and entertainment or ‘edutainment’ as he calls it!
But the journey doesn’t stop there for Ross – this year he is hoping to publish more books ‘I am Smartacus!’ a guide aimed at adolescents developing smarter confidence, understanding skills and developing emotional resilience to improve teen performance in exams, part-time work, sports and friendships.
He is also hoping to publish a resource to help 16 to 21 year olds understand crucial behaviours that will yield success and uncover the soft skills needed to be more employable including body language and social skills.
“I was brought up and encouraged to be the best I can be and I still think I can do more. I want these books and resources out there to help youngsters in today’s world be the best they can be, to dream, to achieve and help them fly.”
For more information about the CUPPA guides to a confident mindset call Ross on 07771 916788. Schools can also access a free assembly and book samples!