Mindfulness au programme des écoles en Angleterre

LONDON — Students in England already learn about mathematics, science and history, but hundreds of schools are preparing to expand the traditional curriculum with a new subject: mindfulness.

In up to 370 English schools, students will start to practice mindfulness as part of a study to improve youth mental health, the British government said on Monday.

They will work with mental health experts to learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other methods to “help them regulate their emotions,” the government said in a news release announcing the program.

The goal of the program is to study which approaches work best for young people in a world of rapid change. The government said the study, which will run until 2021, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

“As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children,” Damian Hinds, the British education secretary, said in a statement.

“Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being and happiness right from the start of primary school,” he added.

The initiative comes months after a survey commissioned by the National Health Service found that one in eight children in England between the ages of 5 and 19 suffered from at least one mental disorder at the time of their assessment in 2017.

The survey, which was published in November, also indicated a slight increase in mental disorders in five to 15-year-olds, which rose to 11.2 percent in 2017 from 9.7 percent in 1999. Disorders like anxiety and depression were the most common, affecting one in 12 children and early adolescents in 2017, and appeared more often in girls.

Imran Hussain, the director of policy and campaigns for Action for Children, a British charity, in the United Kingdom, called it a “children’s mental health crisis.”

“Every day our front-line services see children and teenagers struggling to get to grips with how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world — contending with things like intense pressure at school, bullying or problems at home, all while being bombarded by social media,” he said in a statement on Monday.

He added: “Services like these can lessen the anxiety, pain and anguish that some teens go through, but also reduce their need for intensive support further down the line.”

But two Parliamentary committees have criticized the government reports on which the program is based, for focusing on handling emotional problems rather than preventing them. In a report released last May, the Education and Health and Social Care Committees wrote, “the Government’s strategy lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it,” while increasing the workload of teachers.

“The role of prevention appears to be a missing link in building better support for children and young people, especially in the early years,” the committees wrote. They found that social media and the schools’ system of high-pressure exams can have particularly negative effects on the mental health of young people.

But Dr. Jessica Deighton, an associate professor in child mental health and well-being at University College London who is leading the government trials, said that the new initiative was intended to offer more than quick fixes.

“There is a tendency to think that the solution is mental health intervention,” she said on Monday. “We will try to reduce the stigma against mental health problems, by making the school environment literate in mental health.”

She said the program included several tactics, including training teachers to hold role-playing exercises, teaching relaxation practices and inviting professionals for group discussions.

“It’s not just to make them feel better in the short-term,” Dr. Deighton said, “but to better equip them for later in life.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/world/europe/uk-mindfulness-children-school.html

La France reconnaît l’usage de la torture en Algérie durant l’occupation coloniale

Christine Lagarde: Ending Harassment Helps the Economy

By Christine LagardeCorinne Delechat, and Monique Newiak

This International Women’s Day is bringing new calls to #pressforprogress on gender parity. Giving women and girls the opportunity to succeed is not only the right thing to do—it can also transform societies and economies.

Unlocking this transformative potential means pushing for more equal opportunities: for example, equality in legal rights for men and women, and equality in access to education, health, and finance. Just as important is the fundamental issue of ensuring a safe environment for all, including protection against harassment.

Our message is clear: Providing legal protection against sexual harassment creates an environment in which women are more likely to be economically and financially active.

In fact, new IMF staff research “What is Driving Women’s Financial Inclusion Across Countries?” finds a link between financial access and protection against harassment. We look at this connection empirically in surveys of 1,000 individuals in each of more than 140 countries.

Legal safety and financial inclusion

Women are less likely than men to gain access to financial services. That is especially so in emerging and developing markets, where financial inclusion scores are about 14 percent lower for women than for men.

Our research therefore looked into what drives access to financial services for women in particular. We found that women who live in countries with stronger protection against harassment, including at work, are more likely to open a bank account, borrow and save, and make use of financial services such as mobile payments.

These links are strong. Financial access for the average woman living in an emerging market or developing country is almost 16 percent deeper—that is, financial inclusion scores are higher—when legal protection is granted. For the average sub-Saharan African woman, the figure is almost 25 percent higher. Eliminating harassment and increasing women’s access to financial services can transform lives.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Promoting equality in opportunities can be an economic game changer. Increased financial access means more economic activity by women, including as entrepreneurs. This translates into higher economic growth and productivity, a more equal income distribution, higher profits for businesses, and greater economic stability.

Significant gaps in legal protection

Our study clearly shows that protecting women against harassment can ignite economic benefits across several dimensions. It is also a moral issue as highlighted by the #metoo movement, which has shown sexual harassment to be pervasive in many countries. Outrage has understandably erupted in many parts of the world.

These discussions are important and overdue, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. A detailed database and reports by the World Bank show that:

  • In 2017, almost 290 million adult women were not legally protected from sexual harassment, and more than 360 million women were not shielded from harassment in employment.
  • Legal gaps extend to the home. In almost a quarter of countries, there is no protection against domestic violence.
  • The lack of legal protection affects girls at an early age. In some countries the legal age of marriage is different for women than for men, and almost 100 million girls are not sufficiently protected legally from being married as a child.

Changing laws is not sufficient—it needs to be complemented by enforcement. Other policies also matter, and governments can act today. For example, fiscal policy can play a larger role through investments in transport safety and sanitation facilities for women and girls, and in support for victims of gender-based violence.

Continue the engagement

Together with our partners, the IMF is committed to working with governments around the world to identify policies that help women realize their potential. Aside from analytical work on the macroeconomics of gender, the IMF is expanding its country-level analysis and advice in this area. So far, we have studied and provided advice on gender equality issues in about one-sixth of our 189 member countries. The issues are multi-faceted, so the policies to address them should be too.

Just this week, we will publish a study on Nigeria showing that reducing gender inequality could increase real GDP growth by an average of 1¼ percentage points annually. We recommend a range of measures, such as strengthening and enforcing legal rights; increasing investment in infrastructure, health, and education; and policies to help reduce violence against women. Our advice to advanced economies also emphasizes the need for policies to help women participate in the economy, including well-designed parental leave, affordable and high-quality childcare, and tax policies that do not penalize secondary earners. And IMF-supported programs in Egypt and Niger include measures to empower women economically, such as investments in public nurseries and better public transport safety.

It is not enough to talk about gender equality on International Women’s Day. We need to continue to work to address this issue and keep it at the top of the policy agenda throughout the year.

We promise we will keep playing our part.


Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ending-harassment-helps-theeconomytoo-christine-lagarde?articleId=6376872347055460352#comments-6376872347055460352&trk=prof-post

Write, Don’t Type

Neuroscientist and Cal State East Bay Assistant Professor Pradeep Ramanathandoesn’t just teach his students about the brain. He teaches them about how to use their brains to learn more effectively.

“It may seem like a simple question to ask ‘What part of the brain is involved with learning?’” Ramanathan says. “But the reality is that complex functions such as learning are not localized to individual areas, so it’s pretty much the entire brain. The brain as a whole is a vast network of more than a hundred billion neurons, and likely over a hundred trillion synapses. It is the single most powerful computing device [in the world.]”

And that means proper care of the brain is critical for attention and memory — two areas Ramanathan says are very important for student learning performance.

Want to know how you can use your brain’s natural functions and some research-driven techniques to improve your chances of success next quarter? Read on. But first, there are a few obvious health habits that Ramanathan says create the foundation for learning — and if you’ve heard them before, you can probably thank your mother and father for always knowing best.


Ramanathan says a lot of students — many because they have to work full time while earning their degrees — are chronically sleep deprived. It turns out, not only will you struggle to concentrate the next day, but you probably won’t retain as much of what it was you were trying to learn.

“Many students are overextended so … they withdraw from their sleep budget [to study], and that has consequences to learning — one being that your attention is lacking, but another is that sleep is critical for consolidating our memories, so [losing sleep] is a double whammy,” Ramanathan explains. “What a person studies in the few hours before sleep is especially well consolidated by sleep. So, if a student studies for several hours in the evening, and then gets a good night’s sleep, they will consolidate all of that learning very well. But, if they just keep studying until late and end up sleep deprived, all of that extra time spent studying is pretty much going down the tubes.”


What you eat and drink has direct consequences (good and bad) on your ability to learn. Caffeine can be helpful not only because it allows an otherwise foggy student to focus, but also, Ramanathan says, because research shows it appears to improve long-term memory. So feel free to enjoy a cup of joe, but don’t drink it at night to stay awake and stay away from sugary coffee beverages — the caffeine jolt isn’t worth the cost of consuming lots of sugar and the inevitable crash that follows. One recent study explored long-term impacts of the Western diet on human cognition and the brain, and showed that while sugar in the form of glucose is fuel for the brain, excessive consumption of sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) can lead to brain insulin resistance and impaired learning, memory and other cognitive functions.

Students who drink alcohol may also suffer a loss of brain cells and experience adverse effects to their memory — both in the short term (don’t party before a big test) and later in life. Even mild social drinking impairs memory and learning performance.


In addition to food, Ramanathan says those who exercise more often have better cognitive skills. And that doesn’t necessarily mean running on a treadmill every day. According to a study done at the University of British Columbia, walking 30 to 60 minutes a day beyond what you’d normally do on campus improves brain function and can increase alertness in the classroom and help retain information.

And now, five recommendations from the professor for things you can do to maximize your learning potential this fall.


Research findings have been somewhat mixed about the effects of classroom seat location on student learning. Traditionally, and as supported by studies such as this one from the University of Colorado at Boulder, educators believe that sitting at the front of class may be of benefit because it allows a student to hear better, see better and there are fewer peers in a student’s line of vision to be distracted by. An exception? Ramanathan says a student who is self conscious about being called on in the front row, to the point of becoming distracted by nerves, should consider sitting a few rows back.


Ramanathan says most students these days can type almost as quickly as he lectures. But he warns students against relying on laptops, explaining that many students devolve into transcriptionists, which robs the student of a key factor in learning — the use of metacognition, or “thinking about your thinking.”

“Handwriting places a much bigger responsibility on you to stay intentionally engaged, which means you’ll retain more.”

“When you [write by hand] …  you’re forced to do something important that requires metacognition,” Ramanathan says. “Since you can’t keep up with the professor verbatim, you end up having to summarize in your notes. So, you have to ask yourself a lot of metacognitive questions in real time about how well you are learning and understanding what is being said. You tend to ask yourself, ‘Am I understanding what the professor is saying, what is the gist, what are the main points or key takeaways that I need to remember?’ and then you have to put that into your own words. All of this engages a huge network of brain areas and significantly improves learning. Handwriting places a much bigger responsibility on you to stay intentionally engaged, which means you’ll retain more. When you type, it tends to be more ‘in-one-ear-out-the-other.’”

In addition, the professor cautions that laptops and other internet-enabled devices mean students are vulnerable to distractors such as texts, social media apps, email and other online elements with pop-ups that are designed to grab attention — and can break focus.


As the saying goes, if you can teach something, then you really know it. Ramanathan says one of the most effective study strategies a student can use is to try and teach the material to someone else. You can do this alone or in a group — have each person take turns presenting a specific portion of the information.

But the technique isn’t limited to the availability of study partners.

“You don’t need an audience, you can even do it silently to an imaginary audience,” he says. “Just make sure you’re getting deep enough into the information, putting it in your own words and talking about it without looking at the supporting materials.”


So, what to do if you’re an overworked, stressed-out, beer-drinking, multitasking student who doesn’t exercise?

Ramanathan says in recent years there’s been a cultural shift toward celebrating the skill of multitasking, but that it actually has negative consequences on learning.

“Focused attention is absolutely critical to learning. Multitasking is the opposite of focused attention — it involves either divided attention or alternating attention. We all multitask a little bit and the human brain is certainly capable of it, but there are two aspects that make it detrimental to learning,” he says. “One, when you’re in class and are distracted and multitasking, you’re watering down that focused attention that you’re supposed to be allocating toward learning. In addition, there’s a cost you incur when switching your attention back and forth because each time you have to ramp up your understanding again and there’s time and energy wasted in that process. All of this results in poorer comprehension and reduced memory for the material.”

Bonus point: The professor also reports that individuals who demonstrate the ability to control their attention have been found to have higher IQs and are more successful performing cognitive tasks, according to a study published in Cognitive Psychology. But, he cautions that the jury is still out as to whether cultivating improved attention and working memory can increase your IQ, though he personally believes future research will bear that result.


So, what to do if you’re an overworked, stressed-out, beer-drinking, multitasking student who doesn’t exercise beyond walking from the parking lot to class and never goes anywhere without a laptop and mocha frappuccino with extra caramel and whip?

Lucky for you, Ramanathan says the brain is always developing and is actually “plastic” in nature, which means with time and concerted effort, it can be trained to improve focus and retain more information. The best way to do that? Use the tips above and consider meditation.

“In mindfulness meditation, when you’re meditating and your mind wanders, you bring it back to your breath,” Ramanathan says. “Since your mind keeps wandering, you’ll have to do this repeatedly, and this cultivates focused attention. It can also help calm the nervous system, keeping the brain more alert and better able to process information, all of which enhances your learning skills. Additionally, studies such as this one suggest that meditation can increase cortical thickness in areas of the brain associated with attention and higher level cognitive processing.”

Source: https://www.ebtoday.com/stories/write-don-t-type

The Benefits of Talking to Yourself


A stranger approached me at a grocery store. “Do you need help finding something?” he asked. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant. Then the realization kicked in: I was talking out loud, to myself, in public. It was a habit I’d grown so comfortable with that I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

The fairly common habit of talking aloud to yourself is what psychologists call external self-talk. And although self-talk is sometimes looked at as just an eccentric quirk, research has found that it can influence behavior and cognition.

“Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives. And that’s really why it’s useful,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

When we talk to ourselves we’re trying to see things more objectively, Mr. Kross said, so it matters how you talk to yourself. The two types of self-talk you’re likely most familiar with are instructional self-talk, like talking yourself through a task, and motivational self-talk, like telling yourself, “I can do this.” It might be corny, but motivating yourself out loud can work.

One study published in Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences researched the effects of both motivational and instructional self-talk on subjects playing basketball. It found that players passed the basketball faster when they motivated themselves through the task out loud.

Even how you refer to yourself when talking to yourself can make a difference. Mr. Kross and his colleagues studied the impact of internal self-talk — talking to yourself in your head — to see how it can affect attitudes and feelings. They found that when their subjects talked about themselves in the second or third person — for example, “You can do this” or “Jane can do this” instead of “I can do this” — not only did they feel less anxiety while performing, but their peers also rated their performances better. Mr. Kross said this was because of self-distancing: focusing on the self from the distanced perspective of a third person, even though that person is you.

“In terms of why psychological distance helps, the example I like to give is to think about a time with a friend or loved one ruminating about a problem,” Mr. Kross said. “As an outsider, it’s relatively easy for you to advise them through that problem. One of the key reasons why we’re so able to advise others on a problem is because we’re not sucked into those problems. We can think more clearly because we have distance from the experience.”

So if you’re frazzled and need a motivational pep talk, you might consider giving it in the second or third person, which can help you look at the situation from a logical, objective perspective rather than an emotional, biased one.

Beyond motivational self-talk, talking to yourself out loud in an instructional way can speed up cognitive abilities in relation to problem-solving and task performance.

So, for example, when you’re searching for that item you just can’t find at the grocery store, talking to yourself out loud may help you find it faster. This is because of the feedback hypothesis.

“The idea is, if you hear a word, does that help you see something?” said Gary Lupyan, a researcher and psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to the feedback hypothesis, the name of an item and its label make you think of what that item looks like. “This helps you distinguish it from other items with different names,” Mr. Lupyan said.

Mr. Lupyan wanted to test the feedback hypothesis with self-talk. In a series of experiments, he and his team asked subjects to search for different objects in different situations. In one experiment, subjects were asked to search for a picture of a specific item, like a banana, among 20 pictures of random items.

“We had some of the subjects say the name of the object out loud to themselves,” he said. “The idea was, does saying the name actually help you activate its visual features?”

Mr. Lupyan and his colleagues found that when subjects said the word “banana” before searching for a picture of one, they found the picture faster and more accurately. Saying the word out loud, the study found, made the subjects more aware of its physical traits, which then made the banana stand out among other objects.

It’s worth noting, however, that this type of self-talk isn’t as effective if you don’t know what the item looks like. In other words, if you’re searching for a papaya and you have no idea what a papaya looks like, asking yourself, “Where are the papayas?” probably won’t do much for you.

“The finding was that saying a name out loud helps, but only with objects they have familiarity with,” Mr. Lupyan said. Without that familiarity, talking to yourself out loud can slow you down, he added.

Instructive self-talk can be useful beyond finding your lost car keys or picking out a friend in a crowd. The aforementioned basketball study also found that players passed and shot the basketball more accurately when they instructed themselves through the task out loud, suggesting that talking to yourself about what you’re doing can keep you focused. The study concluded that motivational self-talk worked best on tasks based on speed, strength and power, while instructional self-talk worked best with tasks that involved focus, strategy and technique. In the real world, this might translate to parallel parking, following a recipe or putting together an Ikea side table.

“My bet is that self-talk works best on problems where you’re trying to stay on task and there are possible distractions,” Mr. Lupyan said. “For tasks with a multistep sequence, talking to yourself out loud can help you keep out distractions and remind yourself where you are.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/smarter-living/benefits-of-talking-to-yourself-self-talk.html