Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood

Anyone with children, or who is regularly in contact with children, will know that childhood is radically different to the one they remember. The prevalence of technology and especially social media has changed what it means to be a child almost beyond recognition. With such dramatic changes, is it possible that modern culture is ruining what childhood is?

The biggest problem reported by carers of children is that they engage less in imaginative play. Modern technology means that their attention is being demanded by more and more things, so they don’t have the time or inclination to play. If they have more and more video games or ways to access TV, why would they have to make up their own games?

There’s also the issue of what children can access online. Before the advent of the internet, carers could control what information a child had access to. Now, though, a child can find almost anything online. This can be a real danger if they come across material that’s too mature or graphic for them.

The largest problem children face in modern culture is that of ‘helicopter parenting’. The trend of taking control of every aspect of a child’s life comes from a place of love, as parents of course want their children to be safe and happy. However, as children aren’t able to go out and have their own experiences, they’re staying inside and instead experiencing the world through a screen.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Children may have access to things their parents could never have dreamed of, thanks to the internet. The learning opportunities are almost endless, and they can connect with other children and educational experts from all around the globe.

If parents are concerned with what their children are seeing online, it is possible for them to control what gets to them. Parental controls are easily set up on most internet enabled devices, and encouraging your child to be open and honest with what they’re seeing online can go a long way.

Play is different nowadays, but it doesn’t mean it’s gone. Just like adults did when they were children, children still enjoy playing as their favourite characters in the school yard. There’s still plenty of imagination for them to tap into. The difference is that modern children have a wider pool of experiences to draw from when they play their own games.

So, is modern culture ruining childhood? Not necessarily. It’s true that there are a lot more dangers out there for modern children, but there’s a lot more opportunity, too. If a child is equipped with the right tools for negotiating the dangers of modern life, then they can have a happy, fulfilling childhood.

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Do We Need Art In Our Lives

Do We Need Art In Our Lives

No one will be surprised to hear that the arts are under fire in this day and age. Any child who expresses an interest in pursuing a career in the arts is advised to pursue other talents instead. We view the arts as something of a hobby, something that’s fun but certainly can’t pay the rent. If it’s not a useful skill, no wonder arts funding is being slashed in schools. Do we really need art in our lives?

In schools, time and money is at a premium, now more than ever. With teachers having to fit so many lessons into every day, it’s easy to see why art is dropping more and more by the wayside. Budgets are dropping at an alarming rate too, and what school is going to drop teaching in essential subjects such as math or science when they can drop art instead?

It seems as though the loss of art in daily life is a sad fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s actually a lot of practical uses for art for many people. For example, art therapy has helped people with a range of illnesses, both mental and physical, cope with their symptoms. Art is found almost anywhere you look in your home. Practical items, such as bedspreads, furniture or clothing, are all art forms in themselves and evoke emotions in the people interacting with them.

Art also gives us insight into the world at large. History tells us what happened and when it happened, but it can’t tell us how the population at large felt about it. That’s where art steps in. We know a lot about how people in the past lived and worked, because their art has given us such a deep insight into their daily lives. We wouldn’t have that insight without it.

Most of all though, we need art in our lives as it gives us a form of self expression. Being able to talk about our feelings is essential to staying healthy. You many not think you talk about your feelings, but you may express them in other ways. Some like to cook or bake, some like to work on machinery, and others may like to paint or draw. Whatever you like to do in your spare time, you’re probably creating art every day.

So, do we need art in our lives? Many people would say no, but the art they’re thinking of is the art you see in galleries. Art is actually much more accessible and is truly needed in everyday life. It helps those in need, gives people in the future an idea of what life was like, and is a vital form of self expression.

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Who Invented Homework?

Homework is the bane of all students’ existence, and something they’ve tried to get out of more than once. Almost no one likes doing it, so who invented homework in the first place, and why?

It’s almost universally acknowledged that Roberto Nevilis was the first to issue homework to his students. He was teaching in Venice around 1095. However, he may not have been the actual first teacher to use it.

As long as there’s been education, there’s probably been homework. Experts agree that teachers in Ancient Rome almost certainly handed out homework to their students. There’s even evidence that it was given out in Ancient Rome. Quintilian, the teacher of Pliny the Younger, mentions homework in his works on education. There’s even been stone tablets uncovered that show assignments from teachers.

Today’s students will be surprised that homework used to be frowned upon, especially in the United States. This was because before the Second World War, children were needed to help out with chores around the home. Being given homework meant they weren’t available to complete essential tasks for their parents. It was so frowned upon, in fact, that a law passed in California in 1901 banned all homework for kindergartners all the way up to eighth graders.

The reason this changed was because of the Cold War in the 1950’s. There was a need for more highly educated students, especially those in the sciences. Homework was again assigned to help bring them up to speed on the essential subjects. Of course, the 1950’s saw a lot of societal upheaval after the World Wars. Children were no longer expected to work, and the family unit again became close knit as the fathers came back home. Ever since then, homework has been a staple of the education system.

So, did Nevilis know what he was doing when he started the tradition of homework, all those years ago? He probably didn’t expect today’s students to be carrying such a heavy workload home with them. Today’s children are doing two hours of homework a week, compared to the 44 minutes they would do in 1981.

Do children need to be doing homework at all? Opinion is divided, depending on which country you live in. People who want to abolish homework point to Finland, where homework never happens. They have a high school graduation rate of 93%, as opposed to 73% in the US. Two out of three students go on to college, too.

Whether homework is helpful or not, for now at least it’s here to stay. It’s a concept that has survived centuries in the educational world, and is known to help learning in some cases. It’s no consolation to students though, who need to finish their math problems before they can go play.

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Is Online Learning As Good As Face-to-Face Learning?

Nearly everyone has some experience of learning in a face-to-face classroom environment. Because of that, we’re often more comfortable learning in environments that look like classrooms. However, online learning is becoming more and more popular in recent years. Is online learning as good as face-to-face, or will the personal touch always be better?

There’s no arguing that online learning brings education further than it’s ever been before. Thanks to the spread of the internet, learners can access education through their computers, no matter how remote they are. It brings opportunities to people who have never had them before. When viewed like this, there’s no argument that online learning isn’t a good thing.

Learning online has a lot of advantages. As the learner is attending the class in their own environment, they can control it better. They can adjust lighting, heat and noise levels to ones they are comfortable with. The more comfortable they are, the better they can learn. They also avoid the issue of potentially disruptive classmates.

The work done in class can be much more focused online, too. When group work is held through text or video chats, it’s easier to concentrate on the topic at hand. It has been suggested that online, a group will put much more effort into the task at hand. Feedback given online can be in depth and consistent.

However, there’s some things that online learning just can’t offer. The learner has to be fairly dedicated, as online it can be much easier to disengage from the task at hand. It’s also harder to check if they’re paying attention to the instructor.

The same goes for group work. Face-to-face, every participant needs to contribute, as it’s much more obvious if they don’t. Being physically in the same room together creates a much stronger bond between team members, too.
Ultimately, learning is a social activity. While the internet has made communication easier, it’s not always as effective as face-to-face meetings. Learners can get to know each other better in a physical space, while online there’s always the sense of being disconnected from your peers.

Looking at these points, it’s easy to see a case for both online and face-to-face learning. Both are effective in different ways. Online learning is fantastic for those who otherwise can’t access education at all, due to location or illness. Face to face learning is better for bonding, and allowing learners to learn from each other as well as their instructor.
Overall, online learning is as good as face-to-face learning, but it works best in certain situations. In the vast majority of cases, face to face learning is the way to go.

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How Necessary is a College Education?

Today, more and more students are feeling the pressure to do well in school so they can continue their education in college. They’re constantly told that their future is dependent on doing well, as with a college degree they can get a good job and do well in later life. However, is this true for today’s students? This essay looks to find out whether they’d be better off going straight into work instead.

No one can deny that going to college is a valuable experience. Putting academic studies aside, it teaches students a huge amount about living alone for the first time, in a safe setting. For example, a student needs to learn how to stay within a budget, live with people other than their family, and manage their time effectively. There’s no better time to learn this than while in college, while mistakes can be made safely.

There’s also no argument that some careers need people to attend college first. Doctors and teachers, for example, need to attend college to gain the knowledge they’ll need to carry out their every day roles. College also offers the chance to go out and practice working in those roles. That means students have relevant experience to put on their resumes when they come to apply for jobs.

However, it’s not hard to see why some prospective students are turning away from the college experience. The biggest and most worrying problem is that of cost. College is prohibitively expensive for a lot of otherwise promising students. The cost of the education itself is steep enough, but there are other costs too. The costs of accommodation, food and other necessities for living mean that it just isn’t possible to attend college. Some students can take on jobs as they study to pay their way through, but it’s not possible for everyone.

It’s also becoming the case that college degrees are becoming less valuable out in the real world. Thanks to years of schools encouraging students to go on to college, there’s a glut of working people now who all have degrees. A hirer that’s looking through applications won’t be able to pick out a candidate based on their degree alone anymore. It’s more likely that they’re looking for life experiences, or concrete examples that the applicant has the skills they’re looking for.

It seems that college is still a valuable experience for anyone who attends, but for different reasons in today’s age. The experience of living away from home is crucial for many students. However, it may be more beneficial to go out into the working world rather than getting a degree, as they may be able to progress faster in their chosen field.

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Packing For University – 5 Things You Don’t Need To Bring

Going to university for the first time is a pretty exciting prospect. After 18 years of living with your parents and going to school every day, you finally get your first true taste of total independence – living on your own with the freedom to do whatever you want.

The practical side of preparing for university isn’t quite as much fun. Packing in particular can be a bit of a nightmare – what on earth do you need to bring to survive an entire year on your own?!

There are of course many “what to take to university” checklists out there, and while these are extremely helpful, they often don’t solve the whole problem. As every student has a vastly different experience, the items that are essential for some, may well be luxuries or unimportant to others.

For that reason it can often be much more useful to know what you absolutely DON’T need to pack…

1. Every Item In Your Wardrobe

For most new students, clothing forms the bulk of their luggage, as you’ll need enough pieces to get through every season and for the multitude of events and nights out.

It is therefore tempting to just dump your entire wardrobe into your suitcase and hope for the best, but this should be avoided if possible.

Not only is wardrobe space fairly limited in university halls, but you probably won’t end up wearing even half the items you bring. Most students will tell you that the majority of time is spent in comfortable clothes and loungewear. So as long as you have plenty of these garments along with a few more formal pieces and ‘going out clothes’, you’ll make it through.

2. Too Many Toiletries

A great rule when packing for university is to leave behind any item which you can easily and inexpensively replace when you get there. Toiletries are a good example of this.

Huge bottles of shampoo, shower gel and beauty products can take up quite a bit of weight, which can be especially crucial if you’re traveling to university by plane, where weight allowances are pretty strict.

3. Books

Although you might have hopes of being the most prepared and conscientious student, but try not to bring your entire collection of books, folders and old school notes with you.

University is somewhat of a fresh slate, meaning that your old school books won’t be of much use or relevance. And if it turns out that there is an old school textbook that you do absolutely need, you can use a student shipping service or a low cost courier to send it to you from home.

In addition, try not to purchase and pack your entire university recommended reading list ahead of your studies. Buying and packing all of these books before you leave is not only expensive, but also impractical. Books will weigh your luggage down and despite being recommended by your lecturers, most students often do not need to purchase every single title – some can be borrowed from the library or swapped between classmates.

4. Luxury Kitchen Appliances

In university halls and student accommodation, kitchen items such as kettles, microwaves and toasters will be provided for you.

Additional ‘luxury’ appliances such as rice cookers, panini makers and blenders etc should be left behind. Although it would be nice to have all the comforts of your kitchen at home, your kitchen at university will be shared and therefore the risk of damage or even theft is increased.

When it comes to kitchenware, simply bring the basics such as cutlery, bowls, plates and saucepans. If there’s anything else you need, you can usually purchase these things easily from a nearby department store or supermarket.

5. A Printer

Having your own printer seems convenient, in theory, but unless your course requires a significant amount of printing, it will be unnecessary unnecessary. Not only are printers difficult to transport, but the printers in your university and library will be just as handy.

Plus, when others hear that you have your own printer, you’ll soon be inundated with requests from friends to just print ‘one little page’ for them. These requests soon add up and the cost of replacing ink cartridges can be more expensive that the cost of university printing credits.

Written by Lana Richardson, blog editor for UniBaggage.com – The No.1 Student Shipping Company.

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Does Class Size Matter?

Many parents have concerns over how their child is educated. At the heart of these issues is that of class size. Numbers in classes have gradually risen over the last few decades, and now they feel we have reached crisis point. Numbers need to be reduced, they say, because at their current levels students’ education is being affected. This essay aims to find out whether reducing class sizes would actually lead to an increase in grades and productivity.

The main argument of those who argue for reduction of class sizes is that teachers can only do so much in a classroom. No matter how many students they have in front of them, they have to divide the same school day between them all. Bigger numbers mean they can’t spend as much time with each student, and so the student’s school experience suffers.

Smaller classes show that teachers suffer much less stress while in the classroom. Having to control and educate a larger group of students has been found to be draining on teachers, and when class sizes are reduced to manageable numbers, teacher retention in schools has been noticeably better. A teacher who has less students to manage can give much more of themselves to the students they do have.

It has also been found that when class numbers are reduced, the student’s relationship with their teacher improves dramatically. They feel they can engage more in a class, rather than passively listening. The smaller numbers mean they can feel more comfortable getting involved, and therefore learning more.

Of course, it’s not just as simple as reducing the numbers. Those against the idea of reducing class sizes say it’s not feasible in most schools’ budgets. To reduce numbers, schools would have to increase the number of teachers they have on their staff. With restrictions already on most schools’ budgets, they simply can’t afford to do this.

Thanks to these restrictions, schools have a long list of things they need to spend their money on. As far as they’re concerned, there’s plenty of items on the to do list that have to come before reducing their class sizes. For example, a school may need specialist equipment to accommodate a child with disabilities, or they may simply need to carry out urgent but expensive building work on the school property. When budgets are so tight, they have to rely on those larger class sizes to ensure that students are educated at all.

From these arguments it’s obvious that there’s no easy fix to the issue. Monetary issues appear to be the root of the problem. If schools could have access to bigger budgets, they could reduce class sizes. However, it would be down to governments to help them.

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Should State Colleges Be Free To Attend?

Everyone who’s ever attended college, or about to attend college, will agree that taking part in higher education is expensive. Most are able to fund their studies with loans, grants, and their own hard earned money, but not everyone can. Is it time that colleges were made free to all who want to attend?

Many student debt activists would argue that free education is beneficial to all. Keeping the price so high, they say, is keeping all but the elite few out of the college system. When only a few people can get such a quality of education, how does this level the playing field for the rest of the would be students out there?

There are certainly students out there who deserve a helping hand to get into college. Students who maintain top grades, but come from low income families, are one such example. They have the skill and know how to get themselves into college, but the high price is the one barrier that’s keeping them out. How is it fair to keep someone like that out, when they show such potential?

Free education would help those who are down on their luck, too. People who are homeless, single parents, or otherwise struggling to get ahead.

As great as these ideas are though, there are some drawbacks. Colleges are not cheap to run, and there is the question of how they would be funded if not through the students themselves. After all, the staff, as much they may like to, cannot work for free.

The best way to pay for a free college education would be through increased taxes. To fund every student’s studies, taxes would have to take quite a steep increase. Not everyone will agree with these increases, and it will be especially galling for those who have no interest in funding their own, or their children’s, further education.

Free college education will change the way students see higher education. As it stands now, it’s a goal that you work towards, because you know it’s worth it to develop the skills you need. With a free college education, it would certainly invite more applicants than ever before. Not all of those applicants will be as dedicated, and some may use the opportunity to put off thinking about their future, rather than to study.

It may be better to find a middle ground. The amount students currently pay is too high, so there needs to be a way to bring it down. A split should be made between the student and the state, meaning both have an equal stake and responsibility. This way, everyone who wants to has the chance at an education.

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Is Homework Harmful or Helpful?

The issue of homework has always been one that’s been hotly contested between students and teachers. With homework levels increasing year after year, and the stress levels of students increasing, it’s been suggested that doing away with homework entirely would help students learn better when they’re in school. So, can homework help learning, or is it just busywork?

There are certainly a wide array of benefits to assigning students homework. In a busy classroom, a student may not have the time or the resources to be able to properly understand the concepts they are being taught. When they’re assigned homework that reinforces the ideas from the classroom, the student can work at it at their own pace, and begin to understand the theories they’re being taught.

As well as academic knowledge, homework also helps develop essential skills for later life. Having to do homework means that a student must develop time management, independent working, and research skills. Self reliance can’t easily be taught in a school setting, so homework is the best way of letting students develop it for themselves.
However, there are serious downsides to assigning homework. Students with supportive parents will be able to complete their assignments with ease, as they’ll have a suitable environment at home in which to study in, and can call on parents for assistance if and when needed. Not all students are lucky enough to have this arrangement, though, so homework creates a divide between those who do have support and those who don’t. This divide will affect the education of the students who don’t, through no fault of their own.

As well as this, homework can have quite a serious impact on a student’s social and family life. Just as an adult needs a good work/life balance to remain at their best in their job, a student needs time to relax, spend time with their family, and play. If they don’t get this, their performance at school can suffer dramatically. Burnout is a very real danger when it comes to homework.

Homework itself doesn’t appear to be the enemy, but the amount and the intensity of it is. Even teachers with the best intentions at heart can assign too much, causing problems for their students. It seems that the solution is not to abolish homework altogether, but to put limits on how and when it is assigned.

So, is homework harmful or helpful? It can be both, depending on the student’s circumstances, and how much homework is assigned to them. It can help them develop skills that would be difficult to nurture in the school setting, and it can give them the time and space to understand concepts that may have passed them by otherwise. On the other hand, it can have a serious effect on a student’s work/life balance, and can create a divide between the students who get support, and those who don’t. When assigned sparingly and with good reason, a good balance can be maintained and facilitate a student’s learning.

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