Imagine the scenarios: an elderly relative has Covid, or has died from Covid; grandparents are socially isolating and not available to look after the children; there is no break in the monotony; one or both parents have lost their jobs; the child is witness to an increase in disharmony in the home; the child is sent home from school to social isolate due to a Covid outbreak in school and can’t be looked after; parents are visiting food banks and falling into debt; rent is in arrears and cold winter is around the corner.
Even before Covid, a quarter of children were showing signs of mental ill-health [according to a Public Health England report] and three quarters of adults separately reported they found it hard to cope at some point in the year.
What does the school do?
The brutal answer is: schools are not set up to provide the emotional learning pupils need to manage the stress, anxiety and even mental ill-health they will encounter in their lives.
The long term objective of life-based learning is to make emotional development a theme all to itself, one of only nine life-based themes — such is its importance.
Through life-based learning, children learn emotional resilience by developing self-awareness, emotional self-regulation and feelings of self-worth as a central learning objective.
We are talking serious focus on what is a serious problem for individuals and society.
In the meantime, I hope schools find whatever resources they need, and teachers give whatever time they can, to support the children in their charge through these unprecedented times.
Last night David Attenborough, in the BBC documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts‘ tolled the bell on worldwide loss of habitat and biodiversity, threats to species and extinction of not just wild animals, but putting human existence itself at risk. Pulling no punches, Attenborough banged that bell to hell.
Unfortunately, while the message is not new, human impact on the environment is ever on the increase.
Only last week the Living Planet Report showed that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68 per cent between 1970 and 2016.
One of the nine themes of Life-Based Learning [along with Plant Life and Animal Life] is ‘The Physical World‘. Children in Primary School learn scientific and geographical concepts, knowledge, techniques and skills through their exploration of the damage to the world’s physical resources by human activity and the impact this is having on life and living.
Is it too much to hope that the National Curriculum subjects can be rearranged to ensure our young children are prepared to meet the environmental challenges they will face as adults?
Life-based learning focuses on the value of animals to humanity and aims to foster in children an interest in the need to preserve animal diversity, protect animal habitats and manage the use of animals in sustainable ways to the mutual benefit of humans and the planet.
Above all, it ensures that children are sensitised to the issues facing animals caused by human use of animals and their environments.
criticises ministers for not delivering on pledges made in recent years
warns that more urgency, commitment and cohesion is required
The National Audit Office website states:
In 2018/19, nearly one tenth of 4 to 5 year olds and more than one fifth of 10 to 11 year olds were classified obese. We estimate that roughly 1.4 million children aged from 2 to 15 years old were classified obese in 2018. Not only is obesity increasing for 10 to 11 year olds, it is increasing even faster for children in deprived areas.
We owe it to our children to give them the knowledge and skills they need to grow up leading healthy lives. Life-based learning priorities bodily health. It builds in to the timetable regular physical activity. Children spend time learning about their bodies and how to look after them.
… to focus only on exams misses the real point. There is much more at stake.
The heart of what schools do, what teachers do, should not be simply determined by children and young people’s attainment against narrowly defined criteria of knowledge, but about what they could do as citizens of the future. That is more likely to depend on their understanding and respect for each other, and their ability to collaborate rather than compete.
Today’s attention on exam results reiterates a debate founded on competition and individual ranking; with winners and losers, it is an exclusionary debate. What is needed more than ever is a curriculum that enables young people to learn about difference, diversity and civilised society. The main transformation of education should therefore have an aim of promoting inclusion.
Simon Gibbs, Professor of Inclusive Educational Psychology and Philosophy at Newcastle University
When I was young there was a saying, ‘What happens in America, happens in Britain ten years later’. The article written by Kristin Toussaint for Fast Company – see link above – reveals 1000 tons of microplastics inundate America’s protected lands – 6% of America – every year, brought in by the wind or evaporated into clouds and deposited by rainstorms.
“The biggest category of these microplastics was fibers related to clothing. Samples included polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and PTFE, which is used in technical wear such as waterproof jackets.”
And, as far as Britain being behind America, there is every reason to suppose the same microplastics are raining down now in Britain as they are in America – no time lag there then.
Who would have thought walking in the Highlands of Scotland with your waterproof on could be polluting the environment?
The report provides “evidence on the links between weight status and Covid-19 outcomes”, but also places the link firmly in the context of how destructive overweight is on health. “Living with excess weight is a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers, liver and respiratory disease. Obesity is also associated with reduced life expectancy, and lower quality of life.”
Whilst there are overweight people due to medical conditions, and anorexics may take the government’s campaign to heart by eating even less, the overweight epidemic is very much a life-style condition across all sectors of society.
From the Life-Based Learning Forum perspective, the campaign to combat obesity needs to start with schools — not just as an add-on to the curriculum, but central to it. For example, knowing about and looking after the body is one of nine life themes through which everything is taught. Only by direct focus and attention in the education of the young can there be any hope of slimming down the population.
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