Edutainment – Bouteiller’s English Teaching in Hong Kong

Stand-up comic helps kids conquer exam stress
May 4 2008 By Heather Greenaway
A teacher in UK used comic to fight against exam stress

Exclusive Comedian Gavin Has Fun Way To Battle Exam Fear

FUNNYMAN Gavin Oattes is helping schoolchildren conquer exam stress – with Polo mints, string and Plasticine.

The former stand-up comic has been working with Standard Grade and Higher students.

And hundreds of Scots pupils who started their exams on Thursday have been boosted by sessions with the energetic dad-of-one, who is training manager of motivation company Tree of Knowledge.

Mr Motivator Gavin’s wacky techniques, which include moving polo mints with the mind and building Plasticine dreams, have proved so popular that he and his team have been invited into 75 per cent of the country’s schools.

The former primary teacher, of Troon, Ayrshire, says the courses entitled “Laugh in the Face of Exams” help pupils stay calm and achieve their academic potential.

Gavin, 28, said: “This time of year is very stressful for teenagers as everything they have worked hard for depends on a series of papers.

“Laughter is the best form of conquering nerves and putting people at ease, so we make the sessions fun. Even the students who think they’re too cool for school are bent double by the end of the course.

Nerves “It seems laughter is the best medicine because we have had letters from staff and pupils all over the country thanking us for easing their pre-exam nerves. I really do think we have the best job in the world.”

The techniques used by Gavin, who starred at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2002, are based on science and have a serious message behind them.

Gavin, who has a five-week-old son Kian with wife Alison, 27, said: “We put students at ease by telling funny anecdotes and getting them to do brain gym, which involves playing concentration games to make them think clearly.

“We then explain how the brain works in stressful situations to show how important it is to relax.

“To encourage calmness in the exam room we get them to try Muhammad Ali’s technique of closing their eyes and visualising taking the test.

“When the exams come it is not as scary as their minds have been there before.”

But Gavin, who started working for Tree of Knowledge in 2004, admits it is the Polo and Plasticine aspect of the two-and-a-half hour course the students love best.

He said: “We get them to tie a mint to the end of a piece of string and dangle it over a circle with the points of the compass on it.

“We tell them to hold their hand completely still but think ‘north south, north south over and over. Eventually the mint will move in that direction because your subconscious tells it to.

“Your hand is actually moving but you are concentrating so hard you don’t realise. It’s just like in an exam situation. When you block everything else out and concentrate, you will achieve your goal.”

Gavin, who also runs free workshops with nervous parents of pre-exam students, added: “We give each student a travel alarm clock and ask them to create their dream out of Plasticine and stick it in the lid.

“This shows them that time may be ticking but if they keep their dream in sight it will get closer and closer.

“Past students have come up to me in supermarkets and said they still have their dream clocks. It’s a great feeling.”

Dunfermline-based Tree of Knowledge also works with primary school children, teachers and businesses.

One of their greatest successes is the APODO system – a giant dinosaur-like series of colourful pods that contain dozens of tasks and team-building exercises.

Gavin said: “There is now an APODO in every second school in Scotland.

“Our motto is to tell everyone to dream massive and never stop and it has worked for us as demand for our services is growing on a daily basis.”


SIXTH-YEAR students at Kyle Academy in Ayr give their own verdict on Gavin’s techniques.

“The last few months have been really difficult as the exams are edging closer but Gavin’s course inspired me to keep my head down and keep pushing forward. He’s very witty and lightens the mood at a very stressful time. Looking at my Plasticine dream reminds me that whatever I do I should always strive to be happy.” – Lorna Mitchell, 17

“It is good to have an aim in life and if you keep it in your focus you’ll strive harder to achieve it. Gavin injects a bit of humour into everything he does and everyone ends up laughing. He is very inspirational.” – Katrina Robertson, 17

“I sit my business exam in a few weeks and Gavin’s techniques have helped me become more focused.” – Stuart Johnson, 17

“The course made me realise if you believe you can, you eventually can, just like the Polo mint experiment. If you want something strongly enough, you can make it happen.” – Jack McMillan, 17

“Gavin made us relax and told us to think about happy memories when we get stressed and it works.” – Scott Clark, 18

“I am remembering Gavin’s techniques for staying calm.” – Rachel Wallace, 17

“I would love to become a doctor and have lots of exams ahead so it is important I learn not to stress about them and stay calm. Just like Gavin says, by keeping my goal in mind at all times, I’m hoping to be able to achieve it.” – Anna Kolb, 18


GAVIN’S top tips to exam success

Believe in yourself. If you think you can, you can!

Stop worrying. Talk to people, teachers, parents and friends. You are not alone.

Plan your studying. Make time and avoid cramming. Study timetables are good for some people because they help to monitor progress.

Reward yourself with breaks, you’ll be able to relax more knowing you’ve been working hard.

Follow a healthy diet. Superfoods such as bananas, broccoli, nuts and oily fish boost concentration and energy. Drink lots of water.

Take exercise. Walk, swim, cycle. Taking a deep breath helps to clear the mind and boost energy.

Use relaxation and visualisation techniques such as mental rehearsal. Visualise yourself working hard and succeeding. Physical rest is useful too.

Make your learning fun, enjoy it! Test your friends, draw, record your voice and listen back to it, use your imagination, make up songs, use coloured pens, study cross-legged on the floor drinking ribena using only chunky crayons.

See exams as an opportunity rather than a threat. Keep the end in mind, appreciate why you’re doing what you are doing.

Go full circle. Believe in yourself. If you think you can, you can!

Tips for top tests


Harry Blee

Keep to your study plan.

Arrive for the exam rested, in plenty of time.

Avoid people who might stress you out.

Be positive. You’ve had exams all through school. You know what to do.

Be as prepared as possible. Bring a watch, several pens, highlighter, ruler, tissues, mints etc.

Allocate enough time to answer all questions. How long is the exam? How many must you answer? How long should you spend on each? Do not go beyond the allocated time for each.

Answer the question asked. Read it several times, highlighting key words. Jot down initial thoughts.

Try to re-read each answer quickly at the end.

Don’t overanalyse your answers afterwards. Accept you have done your best.


Mike Lean

Water is important to stay hydrated but don’t overdo it just before exams.

Avoid beer. Alcohol really upsets study.

If you drink caffeine don’t stop. If you do, it can cause headaches but taking more makes you anxious and upsets sleep.

Breakfast is important, especially on exam day. Scottish porridge is best.

Eat fish three times a week. Oil-rich types such as herring, mackerel and tuna are great brain food.

Eat fruit with every meal and as a snack, and two giant portions of veg a day.

Fatty foods dull the brain. Crisps, sausages, pies, and biscuits are for losers.

It’s never too late but for best results start all this in primary one and also use your legs energetically for 30-60 minutes every day.


Ros Taylor

Find out how long it takes to get to the exam room so you don’t arrive stressed.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Read exam thoroughly. Do a mind map or spider diagram. Conceptualise your ideas and your thoughts will flow on paper.

Go in with a positive attitude to reap rewards.

If you panic, think of something not linked to the exam to calm down.

Try meditation and yoga and listen to soothing music while studying.

If a particular smell engenders good memory, use it in the exam.

Take in mascots you associate with success.

Use sweets as a reward.

If you associate the exam with treats, you’ll be more positive. And the sugar will give you an energy boost.

To memorise notes, read them before going to sleep.

(cited from

Joker’s greeting
December 30, 2008, 11:28 pm
Filed under: * Pop Culture - Film *, 2008-09 S1D, 2008-09 S2AC

Harlvey Dent

Missing Ani Ashekian
December 30, 2008, 11:01 pm
Filed under: 2008-09 S1D, 2008-09 S2AC, My Weekly Journal

Sometimes, we do hear of news about missing pets or people. But when it happens to someone you know or within your social circle, it’s pretty scary…

Ani Ashekian is a friend of an English teacher J. Collin who works for the same company I worked with before. This is the link which my previous boss sent to me. Let’s see if we can help anyhow:

In the notes of J. Collin,

… Ani Ashekian, who was travelling through Asia from Canada and has gone missing since 10th November 2008.  The missing lady Ani was last seen in Hong Kong and for the past month, she has lost contact with her family and friends completely. Morever, there has been zero activity on her credit card which was her only means of money. We would truly appreciate you could give us as much information as you know to help this person. 

Ani Ashekian: A Young Woman Missing in Hong Kong
I am writing to you seeking help to find our Daughter, our Sister, our Best Friend.

Ani is a bright, adventurous and vibrant young woman who has a passion for travel.
Her most recent trip was to Asia – specifically to China, India Vietnam and Cambodia. Before her departure Ani only had enough time to secure a visa to China and decided she would get the other necessary travel visa’s while abroad.

She left the Toronto International airport on Friday, October 24th and was scheduled to return on the 15th of December. 
The fact that Ani did not board her flight home on that day was not a surprise to her friends and family for they already knew something was amiss.
Initially, Ani had kept in regular contact with her family and friends during the trip. 
However, November 10th was the last that anyone has heard from Ani. 
When the calls and emails abruptly stopped people began to worry.
Ani’s visa statement shows 2 cash advances on the 10th of November, it is unclear whether these withdrawls were made under duress.
She has not used her visa card or her bank card since that day.
Her passport indicates that she entered Hong Kong on November 9th but that she has not left Hong Kong.

Foreign Affairs, a private investigator and the media have been contacted.
We are working on setting up a trust fund in her sister’s name to help her family pay for the cost of the private investigator.

Now or Never from High School Musical 3

The title of this song is facsinating. We only have one life. Whenever we have to make any decision, to study or to procrastinate, to take this chance or to wait for the next fortune to come, we should bear in mind that we may only have got one shot – NOW or NEVER!

You can’t stop the beat & Without Love – Hairspray
December 28, 2008, 6:30 pm
Filed under: * Poems & Songs - Music *, * Pop Culture - Film *

You all know Troy Bolton from High School Musical. Do you know his ‘ex’? Check it out:

You can’t stop the beat

Without Love

(posted on Nov 9, 2008)

My weekly motto
December 21, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: 2008-09 S1D, 2008-09 S2AC, School Annoucement

All beauty fades but inner beauty becomes more valuable with time.

Marry me & Be with you – Oh Su Jung VS Karl (Korean drama)

This is the song which I’m looking for to set my mobile ringtone. It’s romantic, isn’t it?

Marry me

Be with you

These are sweet songs, aren’t they?!

Is there anybody who can help? 😀