Archive | February, 2012

Obesity and Education…!

24 Feb

“New research published in the International Journal of Obesity reveals that being overweight doesn’t just affect a child’s health. It can also have an impact on their education and ability to learn.”                                                    

                                – Juliette Kellow, Dietitian

In my first blog, I discussed the academic performance benefits of eating breakfast. Now I would like you to consider what benefits perhaps fruit and vegetables can have on our academic performance.

Grossman and Kaesner (1997) stated that ‘education is the most important correlate of adults’ health’. But yet more than a decade later there is little research examining the effect of school education, especially with regards to obesity, on youth health! Obesity rates within the last two decades have rocketed, and telling children what they should and shouldn’t eat most definitely does not work! What children understand about issues related to health and obesity is evolved throughout their school years.

Some of you may have watched the ‘Tonight’ programme last night, which contained information on a whole school intervention produced from Bangor University called the ‘Food Dudes’. This intervention has been very successful in increasing the consumption and liking of raw fruit and vegetables that have previously been refused in primary schools.

You may be wondering why is this relevant but think…

Do you eat your 5-a-day?

You might do now… did you in Primary school… Secondary school?

Unfortunately, children’s education can be directly affected as a result of being obese because of the emotional effects interfering with their learning processes and peer interactions. Children are often bullied in school because of their size and this discourages them from going to stop and also affects their ability to concentrate! And we all know what lack of concentration does to our academic performance!!

Also, some obese children inhibit themselves from reaching their potential because they have low self-esteem and give up far to easily! Academic performance in physical education is the area most affected for an obese person. They are not as able to complete assignments involving exercises that would not normally affected a physically fit student. Type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity, and due to the risks associated with the emotional and mental imbalance, and other side effects of obesity, performance in maths, English and science can also suffer.

In the next few weeks I think I will be focusing more on this area… what are your thoughts? I think schools should be doing more to teach children about food so they understand why such foods like fruit and vegetables are better for them instead of insisting that they eat them!



Make Mistakes… it will help you! :D

17 Feb

Ever worried if your answer is right…?

            Do you care how you got to your answer?

                        Is your answer what is in the mark scheme?

                                    What happens if you get the answer wrong???? A big X?

For years, you may have noticed in your school environment that making mistakes wasn’t acceptable, it was important for to you get the right answer! Educators want “errorless learning”. This is because people used to believe that if students made mistakes that they would remember the mistakes instead of the correct answer. However, research is now showing that students should be encouraged to make mistakes!!

We have all heard the famous phrase “We learn from our mistakes” so why is it people don’t apply this to academia?

Kornell et al., (n.d.) found that if students tried and failed to retrieve a particular answer for a difficult test that it helped them to learn. This may seem an unusual learning technique, but this research also showed that if students are asked for answers before being taught or reading the material that they remembered much more information.

When you’ve been spoon-fed how much information have you remembered?

Nobody is perfect… why do we expect children to be?

A professor from Stanford University, Carol Dweck, researcher’s into the area of the importance of challenging children, even if they make mistakes. Dweck has found that children praised for their intelligence are less likely to persist in the face of challenge. Children also experience higher stress levels when they are constantly praised for their intelligence due to the pressure they feel. In Dweck’s research she found that students who received praise for their effort worked exceptionally hard despite making some mistakes, however, students who were praised for being intelligent became disheartened and viewed their mistakes as failing.

Teachers and parents need to realise that unconditional praise, hiding errors and mistakes is actually harmful to children’s development!!

Phrase I found and liked…           

            “Mistakes contain seeds of learning”

                        So why not sow the seed and let it grows!!

A top girls school was reported in the news this month to having a ‘Failure Week’! The aim of this is to teach the girls to utilize risk, develop resilience, and learn from and value their mistakes. The focus of the week will be for the girls to experience failure and how it is acceptable psychologically and socially. We all worry what others think, and how they will judge out performance… I think this is an excellent idea!! Failing can be emotionally crippling for an individual where they’ve had failure isn’t an option into them! Nowadays we need to learn to accept, cope, and move on from failure!

Do you think its acceptable to experience failure…??

“Pick me…!! Pick me!!”

10 Feb

How many classes have you sat in and impulsively shouted out the answer to a question asked by the teacher?!

Were you told off for shouting out?!

Or, was it drilled into you to only give your answer when asked to do so by the teacher?!

A study by Durham University on 12,000 pupils in England concluded that children who impulsively “blurted out” their answers performed better in Maths and English tests than their peers who didn’t have the urge to shout out… Some children were 9 months ahead of their peers!!

Gender differences were evaluated and despite finding both sexes benefit from shouting out, it was mainly boys that shouted out.


Prof Peter Tymms

“What’s a disadvantage to some might be an advantage to others”


From this quote, it makes me think how each child is different and that lessons should be suitable for the needs of all the students in the class. So, perhaps sometimes children should be allowed to shout out and other times they should be made to wait until asked to speak.

Thinking is a very complicated process. Being introduced into my secondary school is a concept called “wait-time” and “think-time”. This has also been found to have beneficial results and can explain why sometimes children are refrained from shouting out. “Wait-time” was first termed by Mary Budd Rowe (1972). This is a period of silence between the question being asked and the students answering. Mary Budd Rowe’s studies showed that when the silence gap exceeded 3 seconds, there were positive consequences for both the behaviour and attitude of the students and teachers.

In 1985, Stahl introduced the concept of “think-time”. This was preferred to “wait-time” as it specified its primary academic purpose. Think-time if defined as an amount of uninterrupted time, complete silence for the teacher and student, where everyone can complete information-processing tasks efficiently.  When think-time is applied appropriately, it can have a significant effect on the teaching and learning occurring in the classroom.

What are your thoughts? Did you find people shouting out distracting?! Or were you the shouter?

Education System… Like a Production Line perhaps?!

6 Feb

Whose place is it to decide what we should learn? If the economy is changing, why isn’t what and how we learn adapting??

Some people are beginning to feel that schools are putting barriers in students’ path to succeeding, instead of removing them! You may ask…  how are they doing this?

  1. Creativity à Killed (Ken Robinson)? Is it because students are pressurized to accept the circumstances, any ideas people may have of differing from the accepted norm is dismissed
  2. Independent thinking à Anymore? Replaced by dependent thinking
  3. Pressure to excel à Students are pushed and pushed, they must succeed, and failure is not an option. Does this kill a students love to learn? Learning for love and enjoyment is a beneficial life skill… should we be killing it?


Think of a classroom… what’s required?

An active interest from students to their instructors program. In my A-level psychology class, the book was full of topics that we could study, but because the topic choices had to be entered 9 months previous we got no say on what we learnt! Fair?! I didn’t think so!

Brophy (2008) elaborated on a presentation presented about “Developing Students’ Appreciation for what is Taught in School”. He concluded, that individuals who devise the curriculum, and the teachers, must make the students aware of the worth of the material they’re learning. When students are engaged in activities, with perhaps Vygostky’s learning by scaffolding, and the value of the material is fully explained and not passed over, and its applications are modelled, the students will then “experience its valued affordance”.

Schools currently are classroom focused, having shifted from natural learning. A quote I found from the 1900’s by Henry Ford about a production line mindset now seems applicable to the education system, “repetitive action with limited skills and no responsibility”. In my opinion, learning shouldn’t be like walking up stairs, few steps you reach the top and you walk or fall, in relation to education you master a few stages, get to the exam at the end and you pass or fail. This module I feel is like a treadmill, learning has no end, we decide when we are done learning, and press the stop button or is there even a stop button?