Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome

Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome


Sometimes I ask why do we do the mocks? In fact, in recent years I have charted that where I have students in schools which don't do the mocks, they perform better in the leaving certificate in a few months time. Why? Because they don't have to recover from what I call "Chicken-Licken-syndrome" where students seem to genuinely feel like the sky is falling in on top of them! The mocks are a test run - you are meant to make mistakes. That's the whole point of doing them.


Often I refer to this time of the year as "crushing season" because I watch the students who we have built up since September lose complete confidence in their abilities. We have to build them up again from the floor. I really question at this stage if the mocks are a good exercise at all? Surely there must be a better way to have a test run?


Ironically, if you did brilliantly you also need to have a little bit of caution at this stage. I often find the students who do exceptionally well in the mocks take it as a given that this is how the papers will look next June. They may be totally different. Did you just get lucky with the topics or do you really have a good exam strategy?


The biggest mistake that is made at this stage is students and parents alike being convinced the mark you get now is the mark you will get next June. This is not true. The course has not even been completed in many cases. The students don't know their best topics yet and they have often had little or no exposure to exam papers at this stage.


Students and parents are often bullied into dropping down a level in the subject. This is also a very bad idea at this stage of the year. The higher you learn a subject too for the longest time possible the better you do in June. For example, if you continue in an honours class and then drop down to ordinary level closer the time you are more likely to get at least a B and often an A at Ordinary level. In a world where points matter this is much better than "passing" an ordinary level paper. In fact, with the new grading system, it may still be better to get a lower grade at a higher level. Do the points math and the worst case scenario before you drop down. But the higher you aim and the more complex the material you cover, the better you will do with an easier paper if you do decide to play safe in June.


The sky really isn't falling in and there is loads of time left to fix the mistakes - but it is very hard to show people your mistakes when you are made to feel so bad for making them.


You need to do a proper evaluation of your exam papers. Where did you do well? What went wrong? Did you waste time? Did you read a question wrong and answer a different question to what was asked? Did you miss a whole section? Did you get stuck on one math problem and not move on? Did you not know any quotes? Are you good at the details or the generic writing?


For some students with learning difficulties, the mocks go badly in a more spectacular fashion than most. I myself did very badly in my mocks as do many students with learning difficulties. As the department of education has not granted who will and will not receive accommodations in their exams, very few if any schools allow these students to sit their exams in a similar environment to how they will in June. We are overwhelmed by the exam hall experience. I've conducted some research into why some students are hyper-sensitive and how this can be helped. We don't have a reader and hence we read the questions wrong. It's common we take the wrong meaning and answer a completely different question to what has been asked. If you are going to use a laptop in the state exams maybe you didn't get to do this in the mocks? It's rare I find for students to get the accommodations they need and will have in June at this stage for the mocks.


Some students haven't got to grasp with the whole course in one "bulk" form. They are struggling to put all the sections together and maybe they haven't covered their best section yet. There are people who need to see the big picture first.


No one tells you how to sit an exam and for some students they really do need to do a visual map of the answer and the question, this is highly discouraged. Often, it is implied to be a waste of time when it's not at all. It's a vital way of thinking for visual students.


There are so many factors as to why students find exams hard. With so much time left to refine the way you work best, the sky is not falling in. It's time to realise that making mistakes is how we learn best. How we evaluate our mistakes is what will determine how much we learn from them and how much better we will do in the next exam. The one that matters. Put the mocks in context, they are a test run.


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Dr Naoise O’Reilly Work and Research Areas

Dr Naoise O'Reilly Work and Research Areas 

What matters most in educational development nature or nurture


What matters most in educational development? Nature or Nurture?



That age-old debate of what makes us who we are? How much of ourselves is down to genes, parents or environment? How much is learned?


What are Nature and Nurture?:


I have always been obsessed with two aspects of the people I work with, their personality and the way they process the world around them. For me, personality is nature and processing ability, how you learn, is nurture.


This has been a huge focus of my work as in order to help people change often long-term generational destructive patterns you have to understand where they steam from and what you have control over.


How did this discovery come about for me?:


Like all big research eureka moments this one came about by accident. Almost 8 years ago now, at the end of the first term at The Homework Club (my development center), we work through an evaluation process with the students to wrap up the term's achievements. Firstly, I decided to do the evaluation with all ages from 5 upwards. This turned out to be a great decision.


The evaluation had two main functions, firstly to get the students thinking about their own progress over the term, where they had reached and where they would still like to improve in each topic. This gave them control over their own learning objectives and helps them map out a plan for the new year. The second function allowed them to study their learning style across 4 types of learner.The answer I expected was that the underdeveloped students to tick boxes across all 4 areas and have no real idea what their learning style was.


This also allowed us to reflect on the students and their personalities. When I first started this study of the students, I saw a trend very quickly that the disorganized, unstructured and unfocused students didn't fit neatly into one category of learning style. They ticked one box in each section with no clear direction of thought. Many of these students simply didn't know where their strengths lied or how they learned best. This evaluation exercise would allow as a teaching team to focus on key skills we felt that needed to be improved or to help the students develop more structure in certain areas and so on throughout the second term in preparation for the exams at the end of term three. But this exercise turned out to be much more significant.


After the 3rd year of this study, I saw an even bigger significance than I did initially. As the student cohort had expanded in the ages (from 5 to 20+) and the learning difficulties of the students became more diverse, I now saw a new more important trend.


The younger students, especially those with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, and Aspergers all exhibit a "multiplicity". This means they can honestly tick all the boxes on the questionnaire for their learning style. I initially thought the younger students just didn't understand the task. But then I reflected they can't have all got it wrong? I thought about the individuals involved and their learning styles and realized that they had done the excise correctly.


What this amounted to was that these students had multiple ways to work and process information. I referred to this as multiplicity, learning in 3 to 4 learning styles simultaneously. They needed to learn in many ways at once, especially to make it interesting and challenging for them. So for example when we always separate out reading, writing and creative tasks separately, it is hard for them to learn and to stay interested. If we suddenly use very visual ways to learn reading and writing around exciting visual and auditory style topics we suddenly saw much better results. It's worth noting that we also didn't see any of the behavior difficulties associated with the conditions.


As students go through the system they seem to lose this gift of multiplicity.


I only saw a very small proportion of very well adjusted personalities and diversely interested students in the senior cycle above the age of 15. Most had become linear in their way of processing because of the environment or nurturing. Since we always force students to work in one way in a very segregated style in the conversational school system, it seems to me that they lose this wonderful diverse multiplicity along the way. Not only does this mean they don't learn well within their learning style but they get out of the habit of using key skills they possess to do tasks in new, creative and fresh ways. Something that would be hugely beneficial for later working life in all sectors.


The time factor:


Often you feel you are racing the clock. I now know it is so much easier to cause a lasting significant change in people pre 7. Particularly in helping with literacy, learning or personality difficulties. I find myself ranting to those close to me about how we don't work to diagnose people with a condition pre 7 because we have become obsessed with conditions and labels for children instead of development. I think for me there is a whole sperate article on labels versus development.


How about we forget the label and realize the importance of the opportunity that exists for us in this golden timeframe? So this leads me back to what matters most nature or nurture? Which is changeable?


Can you change Nature or Nurture?


From my research over the last 8 years, I have proven that it is possible to change the processing abilities of students if you work with the student pre 10. By 15 you have lost the golden opportunity to nurture people to a more dynamic processing abilities.


For some personalities, they naturally process the world in more ways than others. But with the Purple Learning environment system where you teach people in all 4 processing ways, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and practical you can develop the more predisposed linear people to work in all of these ways beyond the age of 15.


The death of creativity:


It was a shock for me to realise that the traditional school system appears to flatten what I call multiplicity out of students. I think when Ken Robinson talks about the death of creativity in the school system, for me, he is talking about this linear processing that we develop by the conformity of the traditional education ways. So this nurturing is an environmental created way of working, experiencing and seeing the world around you.


So how about nature? Nature is personality. This is generational. I've been particularly researching the correlation between personality and processing abilities. How you take in the world around you and how you communicate this interpretation. What I find really striking about personalities in families is that they often skip a generation. You can have a child in a family who resembles a grandparent or an Aunt or Uncle from either side of the parent's families. Often many of the clashes or black sheep in families are the rarer personalities that only seem to surface less in the generations.


Why are certain ages important?


The image shows what I call the Purple Development Timescale. In this, you can see that ages 6, 7, 10 and 15 are all vitally important milestones in learning and development.


So why are 7 and 10 such critical ages in learning? At 7 your personality starts to cement itself. So combined with how you naturally take in the world around you so prior to this is a huge pivotal time to work with someone on their learning styles. By 10 you start to see yourself in context to the outer world. So this is another vital time period up to 15 to increase your capacity for being different and stretch the development beyond your natural comfort zone.


What are the educational development implications?:


So what are the implications of these factors? Well, firstly it has a huge impact on widening people's processing abilities. The more dynamic education is up to the age of 10 the wider the learning possibilities are for the future of each student. If there are learning challenges these need to be addressed pre the age of 7. I get my best literacy difficulty results with students before the age of 6 in a positive way without obsessing over what's wrong with them or what label they should be given. The irony is that time and time I have shown that if I work with a student before 7 they don't require a label later as the literacy difficulties are gone. Ages 10 t0 15 require much more thought in education. We need to be much more aware of the comfort zones of certain personalities and the quirks of what each need. The biggest school refusal stages are between 13 and 15. But the challenges that have to lead to these have begun at age 10. I often tell people that I need to go backward in order to find the result for now. But the reality is for me that I wish I was starting at the ground zero point. If we encouraged multiplicity in schools rather than our very linear approach we would be creating more dynamic people for the current environment and times we live in. But we don't, we have the most amount of control and linearity in education pre 15. After this stage, there is little point in becoming more dynamic. The damage is already done. The opportunity to nurture lost. The personalities who are naturally dynamic that we currently label as everything from ADHD to gifted wouldn't be bored either and stitch off as many of them do currently. This is why nature and nurture both have important roles to play in educational development.


So what matters most in development Nature or Nurture. The answer is both, but what is more important is time. You have a crucial window of opportunity. You can't control Nature but you can optimise people's personality for the better. You are completely in control of Nurture and the more diverse you are at critical ages of development the bigger the impact in producing well-rounded people. This is the key to escaping the label vortex that we are currently creating in conventional education.



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Dr Naoisé O’Reilly Speaking at the ASPIRE (Asperger Syndrome Association of Ireland) conference 2016


Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly’s Areas of Interest, Expertise & Research

Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly’s Areas of Interest, Expertise & Research 

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A Year of Results with Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly

A Year of Results with Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly 

Purple Learning Project – What we do in 12 slides

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Confidence is the Utopia of Success

Balance.011Confidence is the Utopia of Success

Did you know that your confidence level in its purest form is quite elusive, exclusive and very highly sought after


Well, because pure confidence allows people to become the best in the World at what they do.

Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly comments that, “all of our clients have Confidence regardless of age.  You are confident when people understand you, you are being true to yourself and approach all tasks in the way that suits you.”

Confidence building exercises are an especially critical component of success for all kinds of high level sports people that we work with from Olympians, Paralympians, Special Olympians, World Champion Gold Medalists, European Champions and Grand Prix Winners etc.

For this reason, confidence fitness is as important as training, structure, conditioning and nutrition.

Dr. Naoisé and I experience how confidence is crucial to the success of all sports people. For different reasons professional football players, professional golfers, professional tennis players and professional swimmers come under more pressure.

You could say that soccer, golf, tennis and swimming is psychology played out on pitches, lawns and pools.

It is fascinating how we are able to precisely predict a professional sports persons form for each competition based on our methods and confidence code.

Where a confidence gap exists the most important confidence boosters are demonstrating  how you learn best in the way that you process information differently from your teammates and coaches.

When we flick the switch players remember strategy effortlessly and have the keys that they particularly need for individual plus team success and performance.

You see, different personalities develop confidence in different ways.  Purple Success is about knowing these different keys for different people.  Plus, creating balance for each individual, the group and the whole environment.

It is always a fascination to us that in education people expect 30 people to be thrown together in the same room.  No wonder the system does not work.  Sport is no different.

Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly, Expression Developist™ & Marie O’Riordan, Success Developist™   Mentors/Psychological Profilers to Fortune 500 Companies, Gold World Championships Winning Athletes, Royal Family’s Investments etc. can be contacted via The Forever Method® [email protected]

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Why Talking Doesn’t Change the World – What I Have Learned in 6 Years, Dr. Naoise O’Reilly

Content-EvolutionWhy is it so hard to change the perceptions of dyslexia and other conditions in education?

It would be so easy if all you had to do was talk about your story or be academically brilliant to change not only how others achieve but perceptions of what they can achieve.

I have always wondered why ideas of what dyslexics can do have not changed with all the successful famous people from Jamie Oliver to Albert Einstein. If all these people had done so much before me, why was I told at 17 I could not do any of it and that going to college was and I quote, "above my status".

If only what you had done could change the perceptions of how others approach the next generation.

One of the biggest frustrations for me was it never mattered what I had done before - I was always judged at the next stage of education. So even though I got over 500 points in my leaving cert and was in the 25% of the country the year I sat it when I got to college, lecturers refused to help me with notes because "I shouldn't be there and sure what was I going to do in the future anyway" and when I got a 1st for my degree and went on to my PhD I was given a lecture on the pyramids of education in my viva as to why I didn't deserve to be there at this level. It never mattered at any level what I had done before or what others had done before me. There was still a concrete idea that I couldn't be academically successful.

But almost 6 years on since I started my own education projects to develop methods to change education I now understand why I didn't want to be a motivational speaker. Why my approach has all been about action.

In order to really change the patterns of generations and the educational blueprint that has built up over decades you have to create an experience for people. They have to feel and know the difference.

In order to be truly successful people have to experience what it is like to learn differently - they have to understand how they absorb information, how they process it and how they can be truly successful.

Yes, the methods seem very simple to me and are easily applied to all as they are universal but the crux is that they have to be applied to real people. Then for every person I help to see differently and every family that is successful or every business they will approach the next set of people in a new light. I was told recently that "you have made me look differently at my employees and I can see how they learn now" and this was from working with someone's child. But by understanding their own child in a different way now from experience they see their own employees differently. I have always thought that business had the ability to drive education and that is why I work across both sectors now.

When I set out almost 6 years ago I had three objectives:

1: Literacy and intellegnce not in the same sentence.

2: Make school more enjoyable for everyone.

3: Make companies understand how everyone works differently and stop focusing on the difference.

I guess I have added a 4th one - to make everyone successful.

Almost 6 years on I have a set of methods to apply universally to the whole world to do just this - but it'll never be about me just talking about them. It's all about making as many people as possible experience something new that will gradually change the world over time. You can never go back once you have looked at people in a new light. You can never expect a dyslexic to be defined by their reading age once you have seen them get 9 out of 10 in the spelling test or 44 out 45 in the maths test. You now expect them to achieve academically and in life.

I have never been one for talking about what I'm going to do - I always just did it and now I understand why that action changes the blueprint for the future.

I'm an expression developist now because I express myself often but I give this ability to others too.

Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly.


Supporting University Level Repeats, Fails & Assignments

University Level Student Support
University Level Student Support

From my experiences as a University Level student myself, my role as mentor and my various positions within a 3rd level University including MBA Faculty Manager, Acting Registrar and Masters Coordinator I know what it takes to get through college!

Surprisingly the endless swatting of the course material is a very small part of the road to success...


Welcome to the Purple Learning Project.

The aim of the Purple Learning Project Foundation is to create a legacy of the methods which Dr Naoisé O’Reilly has developed since 2009.

The methods in learning and personality theory have been developed while working with people of a variety of ages, backgrounds, and cultures. The methods have been applied to the education, business and sporting environments. The ages are in the spectrum of 4 to 70's. The methods include: Purple Profiling, Purple Processing Scales, The Periodic Table of the Development of Results, Forget Phonics Reading Method, Purple Pre-School Success and so on...

There has always been a clear distinction for Dr Naosié in working with people who currently need help within the system and leaving behind something of integrity for the future generations.