msnbc.com
updated 3/14/2005 12:57:11 PM ET 2005-03-14T17:57:11

Hoping to apply lessons of herd mentality in the classroom, British educators reportedly have called in the equine behavior expert who inspired the movie “The Horse Whisperer” to help them deal with skittish schoolkids.

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The British newspaper The Observer reported that Monty Roberts, who inspired the 1998 film and has tamed some 70,000 wild horses during his decades as a horse trainer, held a three-day workshop last week for Global Education Management Systems, one of the biggest operators of independent schools in Britain.

“Horses and children are almost identical emotionally and psychologically,” Roberts told the newspaper. “They are both flight animals who wish to avoid trouble, but will become first bashful, then aggressive, if intimidated.”

Roberts urged the educators to draw up two contracts with students – one for positive performance and another for negative behavior. That way, the kids will know in advance what the consequences will be if they misbehave as they will have negotiated this in their contract, he said.

Many educators came away from the session impressed by the parallels between training horses and molding young minds.

“I have taken Monty’s advice on avoiding direct eye contact with children and not facing them square on,” Julie Lawford, a teacher at Brabyns school, told the Observer. “I have realized that just as that sort of interaction is intimidating for horses, so it is for children.

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