Should Schools Start Later In The Morning?

Every parent knows their kids would rather school happened later in the morning. Who hasn’t had to yank their kid out of bed in the morning, in order to get them to school on time? The question should be asked though, should school start later in the morning?

It has to be said that school starts very early in the morning, much earlier than most people have to be in work. at some high schools in the US, students can be expected in as early as 7am. There are some good arguments for keeping the start time so early. If parents are dropping children off at school, then they can do so in plenty of time to get to work. If the day starts earlier, it can finish earlier, meaning children can get the most out of the rest of their day.

However, scientists are beginning to argue that making children get up so early in the morning is actually harmful to their health. In 2015, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommended that schools were made to start later, as the current start times are stopping them from getting the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep that they need every night.

When students were examined by the Centers in a study, they found that being made to start early in the morning made them ‘pathologically sleepy’. It was put forward that teenagers’ internal clocks operate differently to other age groups. There’s a reason teenagers are known to sleep until noon; it’s because they can’t get to sleep until late at night. If they’re made to get up earlier and earlier though, they’re missing out on vital sleep.

When schools have trialled later start times, the effects have been startling. It was found that students were doing better in all of their subjects, especially math and science. There was a boost in attendance, and there was much less lateness from students than there was before. It was even noticed that there was a drop in the number of teen car crashes.

There are arguments for keeping the timings the way they are, though. Schools say that the power is out of their hands in order to change the school day. Parents also don’t want the day to change, as they often rely on older siblings to be home early in the day, so they can care for younger children until they get home.

However you look at it though, it’s clear that schools and children would benefit if they started later in the morning. Students would get more out of their studies and they’d even be safer on the road. It schools can work out how to change their schedules, this could be worth putting into practice.

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Who Invented School?

There isn’t a school child alive today who hasn’t, at some point, wished that schools had never been invented. If they hadn’t, they’d be free to play all day right? Who is the person who’s responsible for creating schools in the first place?

There isn’t actually a simple answer to this question. Rather than being invented in the format we know it in today, the concept of ‘school’ has evolved over centuries, changing along the way.

The first known instance of a formal school can be traced back to Ancient Greece. With a culture that placed such a high value on knowledge and wisdom, it’s not surprising that this is the case. Around 385 BC, groups of students would get together to learn from a teacher, in groups called ‘academies’. The name came about due to Plato, who founded a school of Philosophy near an area named Akademia.

School in Ancient Greece wasn’t run anything like a modern school is today. The teachers would concentrate on more free form topics, encouraging students to think about topics such as ‘the meaning of life’. This began to change in 425 AD with the Byzantine Empire. The schooling system was adjusted to fit the needs of military personnel, the people who would be attending. The focus was on more rigid topics, such as Math and History. However, this system was lost with the fall of the Empire in 1453 AD.

Every culture developed differently when it came to education, but here in the west schooling was known for years as only for the rich. Poorer children would never be sent to schools. Instead, they would work to contribute to the family’s upkeep. In the UK, children were famously known for being chimney sweeps as they were small enough to fit up chimneys.

In the US, Horace Mann and Harry P. School were two men who began to gather children together in groups in order to educate them. In the UK, Robert Raikes introduced Sunday Schools, and the law was changed in 1870 so all children had to be educated.

Schools were very different back then, but this was the turning point that lead to the creation of the modern schooling system as we know it today. Children weren’t separated by age, so every child in the school may be taught in the same room. In a larger school, you could be looking at 80-90 children in a class. This has been changed, but we still see some Victorian ideas in schools today.

Schools weren’t so much ‘invented’ as created over the years, becoming what we know today. There’s no one inventor of the school, but plenty of people who have contributed to the idea over time.

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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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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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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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