Small steps and you will achieve your goal

23rd March 2007 at 00:00

The unit is on human growth and development. The students have been looking at the teenage years. Their assignment is to bullet point the main changes.

The points must be displayed on one side of a sheet of card, with an image of a person in the relevant age range. Easy, you would think.

Jasmine totters into class, bent over and groaning. "It's my back," she explains. "I won't be here tomorrow. I'm going to my chiropractic-what's-it."

She is wearing Jimmy Choo look-alikes, bought at the local market. They can't be helping.

After sitting down gingerly, Jasmine is still groaning. It is not her shoes this time but her work. She has been finding pictures but has used very wet glue, with the result that her presentation sheet has curled up.

I go over to check. In fact there is not one image but two, and a third in preparation. She attempts to justify her deviation from the criteria: "I've got a girl but I need a boy too, for equal opportunities."

"Just one image," I insist, "or there will not be room for your bullet points."

"Well, I'll just stick this third one on the other side."

"The criteria state one image and use one side only."

"But I haven't covered the age range," she wails, ignoring me and gluing the picture on the back.

The presentation sheet is soggy on both sides now. She tries to peel it off, then gives in, screws up the paper and throws it in the bin. I find her a clean sheet to start again.

When I come back, she has adorned the page with a variety of shoes. Again I remind her of the criteria. She explains that the trainers are to show that boys of this age do sport (physical growth) and the sequinned sandals show that girls are old enough to go clubbing (social development).

The bullet points are still nowhere to be seen but she has run out of time.

"You need to finish this off at home," I tell her. "Perhaps you can do it when you come back from the chiropractic-what's-it." She leaves the room.

Her groans fade down the corridor.

I head for home and search out my own posh shoes. I am off to the Skills for Life conference to present a session with John Bird about his Quick Reads book, How to Change Your Life in Seven Steps. It is a big event and I am feeling nervous, but I doubt that power dressing will cut much ice with John, who is founder of The Big Issue.

In his book, John recommends setting small manageable targets. He describes this as going for 3 per cent. I take his advice and set these for myself: 1 per cent to get through the interview without my voice faltering; 1 per cent to not forget my questions; and 1 per cent to get off the stage without tripping over my heels.

I make it, but after a sleepless night and a long journey, I can't wait to get back home, kick off my fancy footwear and put my feet up.

Gill Moore teaches basic skills

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