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Author Ken Hovelmeier


About the author - Ken Hovelmeier

Ken Hovelmeier was educated at St Johns College, Johannesburg, and later graduated cum laude from the Johannesburg College of Education, obtaining distinctions in english, mathematics, physical science, physical education, and educational psychology.

He joined the staff of St Stithians College in Randburg in 1962, and initially taught maths, science and physical education in both the junior high and preparatory schools. Eight years later, he moved into the counselling field when blindness (a consequence of diabetic retinopathy caused by early-onset Type 1 diabetes) made it impossible for him to continue his teaching career.

What follows took place after Ken lost his sight.

Ken was a Student Counsellor at St Stithians College for twenty years, before being appointed Director of Post Matriculation Studies in January 1991. Three years later, he was appointed to the senior executive position of Director of Student Affairs at the Boys' College, a post he held with distinction until he took early retirement in December 2000, in order to open his own consulting practice.

In the capacities mentioned, Ken conducted more than 30,000 interviews with children, teenagers, parents and members of staff. He also designed, directed and facilitated more than a hundred training courses for faculty members and parents, as well as high school and senior primary school students.

Until ill-health necessitated his premature retirement from full-time work at the end of 2010, Ken ran his own successful consultancy, specialising in the fields of personal growth and development, and performance enhancement. In addition to a large individual practice, Ken also acted as a consultant to a number of schools, both primary and secondary. In this capacity, he offered talks, seminars and workshops for faculty members, students and parents. These presentations were selected from his "Getting the best out of people" programme, which has been designed, developed and refined over thirty years.

As a result of his extensive experience and research in the fields of child/adolescent, behavioural, motivational and performance psychology, Ken has been a much sought-after speaker, and has presented talks, lectures and/or workshops on more than 300 occasions to a variety of groups throughout South Africa, as well as to audiences in Australia, Botswana, Canada, England and the United States.

In recognition of his work, Ken has received two international visitorships - one to the United States, and the other to England. In 2000, Ken was accorded the honour of being invited to present a paper (on performance psychology) at the bi-annual conference of Heads of Australian Independant Schools in Adelaide, South Australia.

In October 2001, Ken received an honourary award from the Education Advisory Board of the United States Congressional Youth Leadership Council for "outstanding service as an educational adviser to the Global Young Leaders' Conference".

Ken has always been keen on sport, and, throughout his career, was involved in the organisation and coaching of schoolboy sport, not only at school level, but also at age-group provincial and national level. His specialist disciplines were cricket, squash, soccer, and gymnastics.

Even after losing his sight, Ken served on the then Transvaal High Schools' Cricket Committee, and later served as Chairman of the Transvaal Schools' Squash Rackets Association.

Outside of his professional work, Ken has a wide range of other interests, including sport, reading, writing, listening to music, computer technology, general "fix it" chores, and rebuilding classic cars (Mini's).

Ken is married, and he and his wife, Myrna, an accomplished educational specialist in her own right, live in Sandton.

About the book - From the Horse's Mouth: A DIY Manual for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers

3D Cover Image Ken


This book has been written as a D I Y "workshop manual" for parents, teachers and anyone who works with children.

This easy-to-read book is not meant to be regarded as a psychological textbook, nor an academic treatise. Instead, it has been written as a common sense and practical guide for all parents, as well as people (like teachers and sports coaches, for example) who work with children in the higher grades of the primary school, or at high school level.

After 50 years spent working with children, pre-teens and teenagers, I have come to the conclusion that most of the difficulties, issues and emotional downers" (not to mention disappointing academic results!) which young people have to deal with during their school years are NOT the sort of severe problems which require the intervention of qualified professionals like doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. In fact, my experience has been that, in the majority of cases, caring parents (or teachers) are usually in the best position to provide the "first aid" which is so often exactly what is needed to prevent what started out as a relatively minor issue from developing into a major crisis.

In order to be as helpful as possible to parents and teachers, I have outlined only the ideas and strategies which have proved to be really effective in the work I have done over the years.

Part 1

The theme of the first part of the book is "Getting the best out of your child", and deals, inter alia, with topics such as the role of the parent, parental example, the role played by emotional energy in determining both happiness and success, and the effect that a negative frame of reference has on attitude and achievement. Other issues dealt with include: lack of confidence, poor self-belief, bullying and teasing, the unpopular or lonely child, managing pressure and stress, as well as some ideas about behaviour and discipline.


The theme of section of the book is "Enhancing academic performance", and examines some of the reasons for learners not performing at their optimal level in tests and exams, as well as providing comments on key allied areas, such as motivation, concentration, and exam management techniques. The book also includes a list of warning signs to watch out for, and this can be a useful indicator of imminent problems.

"From the horse's mouth" contains many practical hints and suggestions, allied to important principles and key strategies which generally lead to a successful outcome.

Broadly speaking, "From the horse's mouth" is aimed at parents an teachers of young people aged between, say, 10/11 and 15/16 years, but, as you will see, many of the suggestions and principles apply equally well to children younger than 10 years, and also to teenagers older than 16 years (e g, high school seniors and university students).

Finally, remember that, to a greater or lesser extent, the degree to which we feel happy depends on the degree to which we feel in control of our lives. Hopefully, you will find that "From the horse's mouth" will help you to feel more in control!

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