Self Learning & Personal Development

By Dr Charles Margerison


I follow trends in education, particularly via the posts made by teachers on LinkedIn.

During 2023, I noted the following issues;

  • concern about examinations dominating the priorities for teachers and affecting the wellbeing of students.

  • calls for more time and effort on experience-based learning, such as forestry school and environmental projects.

  • efforts to increase the social emotional development of students, through character and wellbeing education.

  • the importance of time given to helping students with their mental and physical health.

  • discussions regarding the time allocated to learning via interactive group conversations, and the time students are expected to work online via computers and tablets.

Learning from Amazing Achievers

I have looked at ways by which educators can address the above issues, based on the study of over 500 amazing achievers that I have researched.

There are important action applications that can be made based on the patterns of those who have made amazing contributions in science, medicine, art, music, engineering, architecture, literature and business.

Students can learn from the career achievements of people like Dr Louis Pasteur and Dr Marie Curie, who made breakthroughs in medical science.

They can benefit from understanding the thinking of leading entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison, Sarah Breedlove, Coco Chanel, William Lever and, more recently, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Students can gain inspiration from understanding the ideas of Thomas Telford and Isambard Brunel, the great engineers. Their work is remarkable, as they did not have computers and electricity to help them.


Each of the amazing people developed their own formula for success. By studying the processes used, students can develop their own character strengths that will give them a better chance of succeeding in a competitive world. For example, students can learn how amazing people used their time, how they organized themselves and others, and the ways they negotiated to gain resources.

Education Resources

Therefore, in association with colleagues, I have developed educational resources to help students be inspired by amazing achievers. These are available at

This is a platform that encourages students to share and compare, via small group discussions and a large suite of lessons and resources, and explore ideas on how to improve.


The concept of continual improvement is the central learning point gained from all the amazing achievers that I have studied. Each of the amazing people had challenges and difficulties during their lives. These did not deter them. In most cases, it was the motivator to try harder.

Therefore, we need to let students know that amazing people:

  • followed their interests, rather than doing what others told them.

  • learned from mistakes before succeeding.

  • experimented and gained feedback from action.

  • shared their problems with friends and colleagues to gain support.

  • were willing to change based on feedback.

  • took on the role of team coordinators to involve others in problem solving.

  • converted critical problem-centred thinking into constructive solution-thinking to gain results.

We also need to let students know that, with a ‘can do’ approach to learning, they can convert their ideas into action. To do so, tutors can ask students to discuss, not only the theory of achievement, but also provide opportunities for practice.

Personal Learning

One key question I have found useful to facilitate improvement is to ask students to write a personal note to themselves after a project.

The question is – ‘What did I learn about myself from the project?’

This can be followed up by asking students to indicate; ‘How will I use that learning in the next project?’

For example, it could be that the student could be more effective at research or learning how to coordinate others in teamwork.


One thing we know about amazing achievers is that they focused on areas of work that they enjoyed. Some concentrated on research, such as Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur. Other high achievers like Edison and Brunel focused on developing and applying technology. Some people, like Gandhi and Mandela, devoted their efforts to political and social change.

Therefore, we should provide students with different forms of simulated and real experiences, so that their career and life choices are better informed.

That is the focus of our work at Amazing People Schools, where we encourage learning via discussions and exploration using our vast suite of resources. This supports students in developing their own character and skills to thrive in life at school and beyond.