[by Sue Baillie]
Who would have thought that one of the most transforming materials could be a blob of non-Newtonian fluid? The arrival of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty in the Heads of Year Office was treated with a fair degree of scepticism by some, excitement by others (we all wanted to try the gold one) and mild bemusement by others. Recommended by one of our counsellors as an alternative to the tissue tearing and sleeve picking we see in distressed students it has become more than that – it is a tool for success.
Now, to be clear; this is not the silly putty of our childhood which left slime stains on your mother’s furniture and school uniform. This putty stretches, snaps, bounces, pops and even shatters without leaving a residue. There are assorted colours, some change hue with temperature, some glow in the dark, one looks like ice and, yes, one, frankly looks like snot. In truth, though, it is not the colour but the flexibility of the putty which makes a difference.
In the last week the putty has made potentially life changing differences to students in an academic sense as well as giving others an outlet for their emotions. The most notable example was a Year 11 student, faced with their modern language speaking test, who so far had been unable to complete any practice successfully. Another colleague had noticed that when distressed the student excessively rung their hands and was virtually unable to communicate, but on suggesting that they held onto the back of a chair had seen an improvement in their ability to talk coherently. So, when the time came for their speaking test the student was given the putty to use whilst they spoke and gave the best result of their career. It was a huge revelation to both teacher and student and also meant that the start of the GCSE season was a positive one.
Since then we have seen other students benefit from the various therapeutic results of playing with the putty. Others have reported that they feel more able to concentrate, less distracted and anxiety has been relieved, another Year 11 student is using it to help with panic attacks. The flexibility of the putty has a better outcome than the standard stress ball and it is sufficiently fun looking for it not to be an issue for students to use it in lessons and exams. Clearly it has benefits for students who find it hard to concentrate or who have mild ADHD/ADD issues as well as those on the autistic spectrum and it isn’t a distraction to others in lessons. I’ve also used it with success to help a student to stop an episode of self harm and to enable others to demonstrate their anger at a situation out of their control.
In short it has been a huge hit and we are ordering more to meet demand.