About Morven Inglis, M.Ed.
I was born in Edinburgh, raised in New Zealand and settled in Canada. My work experience began as a personnel officer in industry.
As there was not a rosy future for a woman in industry, I decided to use my teacher training (Geography, Social Studies, English) in New Zealand then Edinburgh. I next worked in London as an Education Welfare Officer.
My first permanent teaching position in Canada included Social Studies, P.E., English, Interpersonal Communication Skills and finally in Student Services as a Counsellor/Department Head in Victoria.
I took a two-year sabbatical in 1993 and taught in the Brunei government water village school (Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun). My two children attended an international school.
Growing up with 5 younger brothers and as a parent, I have had plenty of life experiences. One of my brothers was bi-polar. My first daughter died. My second daughter has a “diversability.” She tells me this is the new term. My daughter lives independently, works part-time and is on the British Columbia Board for Self Advocates.
My son has a Bachelor of Science from New Zealand, played rugby for Canada and is presently working on a start-up app.
There is a tendency in schools to be reactive, have a patchwork of approaches and to parachute in an “expert” or a “special program” to fix things.
Such a focus on piecemeal and ad hoc initiatives for addressing barriers to learning, development and teaching (e.g. drug/alcohol use, sexuality, suicide prevention, bullying prevention, mental health) doesn’t change anything and can make matters worse.
This gives an illusion of treatment. A planned, integrated strategy with coordinated services is necessary to produce better health and education outcomes. Strong, consistent connections and united themes do make a difference.
To be able to cope, students need to develop meaningful relationships in their school community. Social-emotional factors affect learning so school should be a protective force in students’ lives. The school culture, classroom climate and peer relationships are critical to the whole.
Beginnings of a Comprehensive School Health Model
In 1979 I attended a workshop that introduced a Wellness Wheel Model that could be incorporated into health education. Finally there was something that made sense and could be adopted by a school community.
Over a number of years, I built curriculum around the Wheel centerpiece, in-serviced staff at my school and staff in the neighbouring elementary schools, gave workshops at the district and provincial level and to community partners. I believed that a whole school approach to health would make a difference. This was a challenge. A paradigm shift takes a long time to implement.
Colleagues requested materials so I began to develop the “Wellness: A Question of Balance” curriculum package. I have spent 30 years designing, testing and revising the curriculum. The result was a comprehensive school health approach supported by solid curriculum.
How to make a difference–what works!
My instinct on how to make a difference in a school community in the promotion of health and wellness was supported by the Comprehensive School Health framework. I started to use this approach in the 1980s and to provide in-service.
I dovetailed in the “Wellness: A Question of Balance” materials to implement health promotion principles. Such a process requires educators and their partners to constantly address health matters to enhance the health and well being of the school community as one that “constantly strengthens its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working” (WHO). The big picture also involved the need to ease and support students’ transition to high school.
After trial and error, I designed a program that would address this challenge for students and parents and would introduce the Wellness Wheel concept as integral to the process.
The importance of parents being involved in their teen’s transition from elementary/middle school to high school cannot be overestimated. When parents stay involved their teens accomplish key outcomes such as:
- higher achievement,
- better adjustment and
- less likelihood to drop out of school.
Research supports the need for addressing transitions, the importance of home and school connection, and that student engagement is all about relationships to someone or something.
The Trap of Paradigm Paralysis
Paradigm paralysis can be defined as the inability or refusal to move beyond current models of thinking. I learned recently from my network that a middle school principal had decided not to continue with the transition program. Why would this happen when student engagement can be defined as “The extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, have a sense of belonging at school, participate in academic and non-academic activities, strive to meet the formal requirements of schooling, and make a serious personal investment in learning.” (Willms, Friesen, & Milton, 2009)? We know what we need to do but why do we have such a hard time doing it?
Schools need a comprehensive, seamless web of care frequently termed a “full service” school (Dryfoos, 1994). Medicine, like education, has hot button issues. Health care systems in Canada and elsewhere are moving away from the traditional medical model. Patients are demanding more patient- and family-centred care and less paternalism. Clinics staffed by multidisciplinary teams are replacing the traditional family physician in solo practice. Of course, doctors will still play an essential role. The sands are shifting just as they need to do in education.
It is time to advocate for change, time to put more effort into prevention. Transformation of the education system will mean embracing new ideas rather than waiting to have them imposed. The school community will be healthier for it. There is work to be done! Reference: Helping Middle School Students Make the Transition into High School
Lots of evidence
There is significant experiential evidence from a wide range of sources that describes the successful use of the Transition Guides and the “Wellness: A Question of Balance” Resource.
Recently I had contact with two colleagues from my past. Jim and Zoe reminded me of the Wellness Wheel Model and related activities from the in-service I had presented on health and wellness. They illustrated changes made and maintained in their health management over time. That is what one can hope for.
- Bachelor of Arts (1967), Diploma in Teaching (1968), Diploma in Education (1972) (New Zealand)
- Master’s in Education, 1989 (Victoria, British Columbia)
- Hilroy Fellowship (Canadian Teachers’ Federation, for Innovation in Education, 1993)
- Field Guide/Practicum Supervisor – Supervision provided for students from the University of Victoria faculties of Social Work, Child and Youth Care, Nursing, Psychology, Education and Counselling.
- Wellness: A Question of Balance (Revised 2017)
- Teens and Transition: A Teacher Guide (Revised 2015)
- Teens and Transition: A Parent Guide (Revised 2015)
- Health Promoting Schools: Development Site Proposal (2005)
- Visits to Academies of Sport in New Zealand and Australia (2004)
- Teaching in Victoria, Sooke and Saanich (co-author, 2002)
- Healthy Kids Learn Better: Comprehensive School Health. An Integrated Approach to Health and Learning (co-author, 2002)
- Wellness Priorities Survey (co-author, 2002)
- Interpersonal Communication Skills Curriculum (1989)
Masters swimming, travel, friends, writing, art.
Praise for the Resources
- “Finally a framework into which all our work fits like a glove.”
- “This work in wellness has evolved to include staff development and families. The Wellness Wheel forms an integral part of health education in our school.”
I learned that …
- “There is a Wellness Wheel. If it is not balanced, the ride will not be true.”
- “You have to take care of yourself. You have to plan your own life according to your choices and plans.”
- “As a first nations counselor, I have adopted the Wellness Wheel Model to address the diverse needs of my students.”
- “The Wellness Wheel and graphing the spokes provided a visual for my group of single moms, of how one’s Wheel really looks and how far they are from achieving balance.”
- “As Public Health nurses we use the Wellness Wheel concept as a theoretical model to help families and communities attain their goals of wellness.”
- “It is a wonderful assessment tool”.
School Health Coordinator
- “The model speaks to young people about taking responsibility for their own health and well-being. The Wellness Wheel metaphor is practical and easily understood. The student-friendly ideas can be easily integrated into curriculum. It builds on all the principles of health promotion.”
- “Students are meaningfully involved in the transition to high school”
- “By using this Guide we have increased the success rate for our new Grade 9 students on how connected they feel to the school”
- “Well-planned, thoroughly researched, tons of useful materials”
- “Encourages parents to embrace and manage change”
- “Succinct, humorous, organized”
Read more testimonials.
Thank you for sending your recent updates of your action and research plans. I am glad to see the results are being used.
I found the results of the Asset Checklist to be very interesting. It doesn’t surprise me that most adolescents feel loved and supported by their family. That goes along with other research findings – and is good news.
Other assets too are pinpointed, such as ethnic tolerance and feeling optimistic about the future. On the other hand, you have identified some concerns that the school can actually play a role in addressing (doing homework, reading for pleasure and involving kids in useful community roles.)
I think I can see the real value in the Asset Checklist (ref: “Teens and Transition: A Parent Guide”). Good work.Professor, Department of Psychology
The first wealth is health.Emerson