Two news stories, not very helpful to each other

Jul 9, 2013 by

It’s funny how two separate news stories written from completely different angles are relevant to each other.

The new national curriculum announced for state schools in England today will make five year olds start tackling fractions and computer algorithms. The government says it is to make our schools as good as those in any place in the world. It also will put stronger emphasis on essay writing, problem solving, maths modelling and computer work.

However, reliable research also published today suggests that a UK study of more than 11,000 seven year olds shows that those with no regular bedtime, and especially those who went later to bed than 9pm, had lower scores for reading and maths. Their sleep patterns and brain power were directly effected by lax bedtime routines and late nights.

Putting these two stories together it clearly demonstrates that we are, as a society, loosening the discipline needed for children’s health and the rigour needed for good parenting thereby weakening children’s ability to learn.  Then, on the other hand, putting more pressure at a younger age on children to learn more skills that require sharpness, strong body rhythms and good sleep patterns that are essential for growth and healthy cognitive performance.

The research from University College London suggested that inconsistent bedtimes may be a reflection of chaotic family situations. These, to my mind, are chronic problems that we live with today given the distractions of television, social media and the internet that all conspire to establish erratic and unhealthy lifestyles for children.

So here we are again, with the left hand not being very helpful to the right hand . . .

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  1. Completely agree. Here in Australia we rank 2nd for childhood obesity, but still physical education and health studies are first to be bumped from a busy curriculum. Going to have a lot of academically gifted leaders who only live until they are 40!

  2. Tony Domaille

    I’m not sure that it’s society that is loosening discipline and weakening children’s ability to learn. What I am sure about is there are far too many parents abrogating their responsibilities, treating children as their little friends and sharing the television until late in the evening instead of nurturing. Parents are only part of society, not society itself.

    As the Country slips further down the education ‘league tables’ it can be no surprise that there is a move to improve standards in schools and children’s outcomes. Does that mean putting more pressure on children? Maybe. But do we turn down the pressure to accommodate the lax and feckless parenting that goes with having children up so late they are too tired to learn? If we wait for parenting to improve we may wait forever before looking to raise standards?

    For me it’s not a case of the left hand not being very helpful to the other, but more a case of the wrong hand hampering the right.

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