How the Horse Whisperer's tactics lifted a sink school

Monty Roberts' techniques used on children

source: Amelia Hill
Observer June 9 2002 p9

Monty Roberts, also called the Horse Whisperer, who has just brought out 'Horse Sense for People', has had his techniques shown in a movie, starring Robert Redford. His methods have been used by a schoolteacher, Stephen Taylor, at Kingshurst Junior School in Birmingham, England. Many children at this school are poor, or have special needs, and the school was struggling. It has greatly improved, and Roberts' methods are credited with this success.

Roberts believes that positive consequences should follow positive actions, and negative consequences should follow negative actions. Taylor used these ideas to develop contracts for the children with rules that teachers and students agreed on, relating to rewards and punishments. The headmaster agreed to implement the scheme. Roberts is pleased with the results - he has tried to get US schools to use his methods, which emphasise a non-confrontational approach. Riberts argues that too often coercion is used on children, who are similar to horses, in that they tend to run away if threatened. They can bth, however accept guidance when people negotiate and communicate with them. Children can be helped to become secure, and responsible for their actions.