Alexa, Do My Homework!
Low Literacy Due To Overuse of Screen Time?...Health Secretary Prescribes An App For That.
The independent reported today that the majority of parents would struggle to help a 7 year old with their homework according to a new study.
The study by Oxford Home Schooling found that only a third of parents felt confident assisting their kids with school projects. The study provided 1000 parents typical year 3 homework and found only 1 in 16 of the participants could answer each of the Maths, English and Science questions correctly.
You can head over to the Independents article to do the test yourself.
The study also determined men are more likely to feel confident helping out with homework. 39 percent of Dads compared to only 28 percent of mums said they were confident to help.
More than one in 10 parents acknowledged they use Siri or Alexa virtual assistants to help answer homework questions. More than 75% of parents admit to often using the internet to answer homework questions.
“The results of the survey are quite surprising, but they will probably resonate with many parents across the country," said Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling.
"For some, a large amount of time will have passed since they themselves were in the education system and so they will be unfamiliar with the current curriculum.
“Our research has found that over a third of primary school parents think their children are stressed because of work, so it is important that they strive to help out where they can, using assistants, like Google, if needed.”
Meanwhile despite televised warnings of kids getting too much screen time the education secretary Damien Hinds believes parents should be getting their kids to use educational apps to reduce the literacy gap between children at school entry age.
He talked in terms of the development gap being a "profound issue" and will let the areas most affected by the readiness variance have free prescriptions to educational apps for kids as young as two years old.
He said the so called sesame street can be harnessed to bridge the skill gap. He also puts the responsibility on distracted parents who are too engaged with their own devices to talk to their kids and help them out.
Both these articles are painting a picture of a society which has a two sided relationship with technology. The majority of parents are relying on the internet and devices to help kids do their homework. kids copy what they see at home and in turn spend too much time using devices and doing less and less of more proactive activity’s such as reading and motor skill improving creative play. The kids suffer as a result of their own and their parents overuse of tech whilst the health secretary prescribes more screen time to solve the issue no doubt creating kids who grow up reliant of technology to solve their problems and so a perpetual loop seems impossible to avoid.
With Apples steady integration into the school room via digital text books and homework apps, it seems that parents are going to undertaking an uphill struggle to push back against the machines we are increasingly relying on to help us raise our kids.
One way we can make sure our kids are getting some extra exercise is by providing them with standing desks. Schools can trial standing desks on a “try-before-you-buy” basis here. Parents can grab a suitably sized Eiger Standing desk here to encourage more physical literacy at home to make their own stand against the developing screen time addiction crisis turning our kids obese and illiterate.
I Want a Standing Desk Publishes a Fortnightly Blog about health and education. Bookmark us now or follow us on Twitter / Facebook to keep up to speed with our latest.
5 New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Kids
Kids Become Less Active Every Year of Primary
Fight The Obesity Crisis With School Wide Change
Finland’s Excellent Education Should Be Emulated
Jeremy Corbyn recently called out the Finnish education system as the one we should aim to emulate in this country. Michael Moore produced a documentary detailing the quality of Finland’s education system and media across the world have since been abound with details of the unique Finnish scholastic approach.
With political leaders citing other countries methods as best practise perhaps time to look at what Finland are doing well and see what our schools and educators could borrow from their process.
Finland completely rejuvenated their education system about 40 years ago as an integral element of the country’s economic recovery plan but evidence this was successful didn’t come until the 2000’s when a standardized test given to schools across 40 countries showed that Finnish schools produce the best readers. Three years later tests confirmed they then led in Maths. By 2006 Finland were first in science, third in reading and 6th in maths. It seemed the education revolution in Finland had a real impact.
NO TESTS AND BIG ON EQUALITY
So what do they do differently? Well there are no mandated standardised tests in Finland until the end of students last year of senior school. Pupils are not ranked, don’t compete within the school or across regions. So ‘teaching to the test’ is an outdated principle in Finland.
Instead equality is the buzzword integral to the culture of the countries education system. So much so that the gap between the lowest performing pupil and the highest is the smallest in the world.
“Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.
Despite Finland spending 30% less than the USA on each student a striking 93% of their students go on to graduate. That’s 17.5% more than the US. Facts such as these are why other countries are looking at Finland’s methods and asking themselves “how can we do better?”
“We prepare children to learn… how to learn, not how to take a test,”
Pasi Sahlberg - Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture
PLAY IS INTEGRAL. SCHOOL STARTS LATER.
So what else is different? Well schools allows 15 minutes of free playtime up to four times a day. The kids are getting fresh air and exercise both of which proactively benefits them when they hit the books. Now whilst Finland might not test these children studies have shown that 15 minutes exercise has a positive effect on kid’s ability to learn and study resulting in higher test scores for active pupils who exercise in or before class.
In Finland kids spend far more time playing outside and aren’t rushed into the education system. Compulsory schooling only starts at age 7.
WHATEVER IT TAKES
There is a widespread cultural phenomenon throughout Finland’s education system and it is one of doing “whatever it takes” to get a child to where they need to be academically.
This might be a headmaster taking a child under their wing as a personal mentee to letting them express themselves with how they dress or flex their wiggles by letting them get outside more. This approach is more easily demonstrated by the fact that Finish schools have dedicated SEN teams available to each class ensuring that each child benefits from their education equally.
Teachers in Finland are highly educated and require a masters degree (5-7 years in the making) in order to be qualified to teach. They are then given a great deal of autonomy in the process and are respected within their communities far more than in other countries.
With the commitment of so many years under their belts and the regard for their profession being highly placed they are also far more likely to view teaching as a lifelong career which bodes well in terms of retaining the highly educated better qualified staff for longer.
Can UK schools adopt a more Finnish approach right now?
Well by taking a leaf from the Finnish schools habit of encouraging physical literacy in the school day. Whilst we know that schools are in no position to suddenly introduce 15 minutes of play before every lesson however hundreds have already started to include standing desks to allow children some physical freedom in the classroom.
Schools can trial the Eiger Student Standing Desks by completed a short form here.
Standing whilst you work can have the same effect of improved engagement, academic performance, personal well-being and good mental health. By letting kids stand and move more whilst they work schools are reportedly reaping the benefits similar to the schools whose children are allowed additional playtime and outdoor exercise.
LITTLE TO NO HOMEWORK / THE INNER MOTIVATOR
So what else separates Finland’s process from our own?
Well Children are given little to no homework but most importantly kids are encouraged to tap into their inner motivation. Teachers and school systems focus on working out psychologically how best to stimulate a child’s own inner motivation. Teaching them not to work to tests well but instead how to think analytically.
Goals are set but by the kids themselves. They are asked to identify their own goals and these might be yearly or weekly but the emphasis is on the child taking ownership of their own journey.
This seems to go hand in hand with the desire to teach them not to perform for others but for themselves. A key component of the system which seems integral to its success. In short they introduce a joy of learning by taking away the side British children, bemoan. Tests, homework, few breaks…working to satisfy someone else’s standards.
The overarching educational reform Finland dared to implement has turned them into a world leader of education. They seemingly afford their teachers and pupils far more respect than we do nationally and importantly both now outperform us. So if you’re a teacher or headmaster and you think you can take a leaf out of the Finish playbook. Then don’t wait for national reform.
As Ghandi was apparently mis-quoted as saying. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And implement some positive class or school wide changes in your institution. Show other schools, your pupils and communities that you are prepared to improve and change for the better. Positive change is contagious. It simply has to start somewhere.
P.E. As Important As Maths & English to 2/3rds of Parents.
A poll conducted by YouGov for the Youth Sports Trust surveyed 2071 adults and the results indicate that P.E. is just as important to parents as maths, science and English. Two thirds of parents believe P.E. should get as much time in the curriculum as the core subjects.
Almost half of the parents surveyed believe that it is wrong to take kids out of P.E. for extra tuition in English, Maths and Science.
Meanwhile it has come to light that P.E. has received tuition time cuts putting the subject as the 2nd most cut from our children’s schedules next to ICT.
Children need P.E. but should it muscle out the core subjects?
Alison Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Pupils are being taught fewer hours of physical education than they were a decade ago,” she said.
“The wellbeing of young people is in decline, with too many struggling with issues that a good quality physical education could support them with.
“Provision of opportunities to enjoy sport, play and physical activity should be a core part of every young person’s education. We passionately believe that a transformed physical education should be on a par with maths and English in the curriculum.”
The Youth Sport Trust is holding National School Sport Week, from 24 to 28 June.
8,200 schools have taken part in national sport week since 2014. Readers can find out more about the National School Sport Week here and register their involvement. The first 500 schools to submit their registration will all receive a National School Sport Week bonus pack including bunting to decorate their school.
A Department for Education spokesperson said that the government has doubled its P.E. and sport premium funding to £320 million a year.
What’s the takeaway here? No this writer doesn't agree that physical education should hold as much curriculum time as the core subjects however it is indicated that the majority of parents believe that physical literacy is important and should be a main concern for our children.
Standing desks promote physical literacy in kids and are available to try before you buy for schools using this link. It has been proven that children who are physically literate and include movement in their daily routine go on to become healthier, happier adults. We all want that for our children... so what can you do? If you're a parent or teacher you can get behind your schools health programs and make sure your children are exercising. This could be holding classes out in the playground or integrating standing desks into your learning spaces. Some schools are now starting to tap into their sport premium funding for standing desk purchases whilst school PTA's are even supporting their schools by funding standing desks for their kids.
Children’s life expectancy are now 5 years shorter due to low physical and mental health. It's time to curb the trend of low physical activity and stomp on the sedentary habits demonstrated by our children. Reduce screen time and let them play outside more. (One in eight kids don't play outside!)
Exercise, Fresh air and vitamin C are regarded as miracle cures we are so desperately in need of. Maybe you agree with this writer that exercise should be encouraged but not in place of the core subjects or you believe P.E. should be getting more timetable space. It seems the majority of parents agree that physical literacy matters...and serious change needs to occur to give out children those 5 years back.
Source: Times Educational Supplement
Making Students Sit All Day Is "Inhumane"
Brad Johnson, Author of Learning on Your Feet: Incorporating Physical Activity into the K-8 Classroom has produced an article in Principle, published by the National Association of Elementary School Principles describing the practise of sitting in schools as "Inhumane"
Johnson makes links to rising rates of obesity, ADHD and diabetes as a result of the old fashioned sitting culture in modern day schooling.
He has the stats to back up his claims and says that if these figures were related to an infectious disease that we'd be declaring an epidemic however as this is resultant from education it’s simply the status quo.
Obesity rates in children have doubled since the 1980's
Type 2 Diabetes is up 30% in children between 2000-2009
There are now 5.7 million children diagnosed with ADHD and the use of pyscho-stimulants such as Ritalin is up by 700%
Johnson reflects on a longitudinal study by Howard Gardner which found that a group of children who all tested at a genius level up to age 4 only ten percent continued to test at such levels by age 20. Johnson attributes this to the public education systems imposed uniformity and sedentary behaviours.
Johnson offers tips on helping kids to burn off their excess energy and focus on learning - these include regular breaks for stretching and standing, two minute exercise breaks for sit-ups to refocus and dancing and games designed to work off pent up energy.
Johnson states that there are many connections between the brain and movement and our ability to learn, one of which is that the same part of the brain that controls movement controls also learning so Johnson believes that sitting actively hinders the learning process.
Basically exercise and movement stimulates the executive function part of the brain which aids cognition, organisation, focus, emotional regulation and multi-tasking all essential elements of a well-rounded learner.
"The part of the brain that processes movement also processes learning. So when students are sitting still, the learning process is actually hindered rather than enhanced.” - Johnson
Johnson’s article is available here.
...and his book is available here.