The Chimp Paradox – Dr Steve Peters

I am a bit of a mug for business books and love reading popular psychology. Many books in these genres are quite frankly rubbish, not based on any scientific evidence and too often completely useless in terms of generalising beyond the particular experiences or circumstances of the individual author. My interest in these books is usually both personal and professional – is there anything I can learn to improve myself and are there any useful insights that can be applied to the world of education.

One book I read recently stands out from the crowd, ‘The Chimp Paradox – The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness’ by Dr Steve Peters. Dr Peters works in elite sport as the British cycling team’s resident psychiatrist and is credited with making a major contribution to the success of amongst others Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins.

I found it well worth reading from a personal perspective – we all need to manage our chimps and make sure our human is in the lead. I also think there are some excellent insights from the perspective of a parent and a teacher. The model of chimp, human and computer is a useful one that can be easily communicated and understood. In the BBC interview with Stephen Sackur (who is unfortunately too busy trying to ask ‘hard questions’ to either comprehend fully or engage properly with the depth of argument) Dr Peters talks about happiness and quality of human living. Could there be any more important educational outcomes?

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