A leopard can’t change its spots…


I thoroughly recommend you listen to the last 10mins of this Radio 4 programme where they interview one of Jamie Oliver’s “Dream School” pupils, Angelique Knight. (“Dream School”is a programme on Channel 4. 20 youngsters who have dropped out of education are given a ‘second chance’ in a school where the teachers are inspirational individuals and leaders in their field.)

It reminded me of how from an early age, we are taught that a “leopard can’t change its spots”; that once our personality has developed, it is fixed for life.

It is no surprise then, that we start to believe this to be true and convince ourselves further by finding evidence that supports these beliefs – especially if this evidence comes out of the mouths of those closest to us. We then become like a walking cliche, as in Angelique’s case when she was convinced that she was “Unteachable.”

Angelique proves that change is possible. And that all it requires is the desire to believe something different about yourself and then the commitment to take action to make the belief a reality.

What beliefs do you need to challenge about yourself?


One thought on “A leopard can’t change its spots…

  1. This is so heartening, and I do admire the candid honesty of Angelique of the before and after experience plus her acknowledgement that the disruption in conventional school was all her own making.

    My conclusion is that the system was not geared up for her, rather than she was unteachable.

    I encountered a Yr5 lad in one of the schools where I coach, who was similarly ‘unteachable’, disruptive and ill disciplined. However, for him cricket (including and in spite of its many laws, conventions, spirit of fair play etc) was a pleasure he embraced 100%. For him, learning through play was almost liberating – because it was so different from his conventional schooling. His teachers consequently saw him in a new light.

    Sir Ken Robinson has much to say on the archaic criteria upon which our education system is built – and his story about Gillian Lynne bears out the many pitfalls of that system, and why we really need a revolution rather than an evolution in education.

    In terms of leopards, though – through our formative years we are imprinted and also take on belief systems that will serve us for as long as they are not challenged.
    As you rightly say, Charlie, the leopards who accept the challenge CAN change their spots – because we are all capable of far far more than we ever think we are.

    Thanks for the post and the link!


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