Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Teachers need to Teach...

and parents need to bloody parent.

This article from today's Times has my eye balls rolling. It is not the job of a teacher to 'inform' parents that their children are overweight or obese. Surely a parent with a set of eyes can notice things like that for themselves.

'"I would like to see teachers being more proactive," Prof Moyna said. "I think it's important that primary teachers stand up and be prepared to measure this on a regular basis. It's something that could be incorporated into PE [physical education] or biology lessons and would only take 30 seconds."

Is he for real? 30 seconds of what? Measure what exactly? Measure fat? Measure reactions? Measure tape worms?

Imagine lining up a group of children, taking their heights and BMIs on a regular basis and then labeling each child. 'Sorry Mikey, BMI of 30, you need to lay off the rice crispy buns. NEXT!' Imagine how that child would feel? His self esteem? How much of his self worth would be tied up in BMI Day.
I have no doubt there is a growing problem of obesity in this country, but humiliating children is not proactive or a step in the right direction. Teachers should teach, end of. And not be expected to solve social problems.



Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

Beat me to it FMC! I heard this on Morning Ireland earlier and had intended to mention it.

Yet again teachers are finding themselves shouldered with the responsibility of tasks that should be the domain of the parent.

Your child is a despicable runt?
Clearly the teacher should be instilling discipline and a sense of right and wrong.

Sarah lacks self confidence?
Teachers should nurture and support the emotional development of students.

Jack doesn't know that "blue and green should never be seen"?
Don't you know sartorial advice is best imparted by teachers.

What's next? Your "low babies" teacher scraping together enough money so your child has a deposit for a house?

If teachers are to do all of this, when exactly are they supposed to find time to actually teach? And what, if anything, are parents expected/willing to take responsibility for?

9:47 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Exactly BA, why should a teacher, ANY teacher have to put their neck on the line and explain to a parent that their child is over weight? I'd imagine most parents would take quite a dim view of this anyway. It's ridiculous.

10:04 a.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

fairly ridiculous alright.

"We've no problem labelling a child with elevated blood pressure or elevated cholesterol"

What kind of freak is this guy?

10:15 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

In my head I imagine him wandering around with one of those sticker guns from the supermarket, slapping labels on random folk.

10:26 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Hmmm, my cats are very annoying today. I believe the next one that 'yows' at me will be deposited outside.

10:27 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry, the other kids in the playground will inform "Mikey" that he is a "fat bastard" or that he has big ears or tell little "Mary" that she is a fat cow. And then they will give them a goog hiding , to instil a sense of self loathing and negative self body image.

Leave it to the kiddiewinks.

10:34 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Well, children can be cutting. Nothing to be done about that. However, I still dont' understand why anyone would think the role of parenting ought to be taken on by teachers.

10:37 a.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Definitely agree FMC - the lack of responsibilty on parents is being positively encouraged by idiots like this. I'd much rather see parents become "more proactive" than yet another burden on teachers who are often limited by unhelpful restrictions in every aspect of their work.

11:03 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Now hold on just a minute... everyone knows that parents are far too busy to be parents these days. Of course it's the teacher's job. And actually, while I think of it, it would be far more sensible if all primary school kids were given breakfast and lunch at school. Then the parents could complain to the teachers if their children were getting obese. And they could sue them, because if someone else is responsible then it's their fault and they should be punished.

11:52 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

... aaaah, that felt good...

11:53 a.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...


I am also of the opinion though that schools need to do more than just readin' writin' and 'rithmatic. I'm seeing 17 year olds that have very few skills outside academic life. My 'for instance' is driving - it is taught in American schools and could be taught in Irish schools, though it might cost a lot. In the case of obesity, there might be a case for a medical professional coming into a school and offering children health checks and medical advice. The fact is that often parents are too clueless or feckless to give these kinds of directions to kids.

I guess what I am saying is that I am in favour of primary and secondary school up to junior cert being a place where children are educated in all things that are useful for them when they are older and this might include knowing how to fry a rasher, how to look after your health, the consequences of bullying, etc. CSPE goes some of the way in the JC cycle, but this only relates to how a person interacts with other people.

I know that most parents would object to teachers giving advice that parents are supposed to give, so this is no more than a polemical comment, however the following is a true story:

A student came to Maynooth some years ago and moved in with some post-grad students I knew. They noticed that he only ate sandwiches - breakfast was a ham sandwich, lunch was a ham sandwich and dinner was a ham sandwich. They asked him why he didn't eat anythign else and he replied that he didn't know how to make anything else. So, they said they would teach him. What did he like to eat? he said he loved eggs and rashers. They sent him out to make the purchases. When he came back, they took him through the boiling of an egg. He ate the egg and was happy. They said that in the morning they would show him how to do rashers. Next morning they worke up, came down stairs to find that he had already eaten. He had cooked the rashers for himself. They asked whether he liked them and he replied that they were ok, but not as nice as the ones his mother made. He had boiled the rashers.

His mother wasn't a bad woman, but there were serious holes in his education. This is why I think that education for under 16's is about teaching for life as much as it about pythagoras theorem.

12:01 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

I can understand your point, but I have to disagree with you there Doc - it is simply not the teachers responsibility to give the kids what would amount to generic advice in how to operate in the real world.
They are paid to educate in chosen subjects, not to raise.

In that example you are attributing the student not knowing how to cook to "holes in his education". In my view if you haven't taught your own children essential life-skills, you have failed as a parent.

12:18 p.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...

sheepie, i guess this is the point i'm making - there are soooo many young people that are clueless on loads of things. They don't watch the news or know how a whole load of the world works and perhaps it is the role of the state to allocate some of the time and space of schools to things other than books. It is easy to say that in the case I gave that the parents had failed, but I suspect that those parents had been great parents in many ways, probably being of the opoinion that waiting on their son hand and foot was good parenting. I just wonder if the state should step up and do some other things - health education including nutrition, driving (expensive), filling out the forms for the dole (will be useful for many of them over the next few years if George Lee is anybody to go by).

The state already provides career guidance, religious education, sports education. It is arguable that these should be the preserve of the parents and the parents only.

1:15 p.m.  
Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

The fact is that often parents are too clueless or feckless to give these kinds of directions to kids.

Doc, I see your point... to a point.

The problem, as I see it, is that parents who are too "feckless" to realise little Billy rolls (rather than walks) down the street are unlikely to actually take any action when informed of this fact by his teacher.

Deciding to have children brings with it a great deal of responsibility. If a parent (or parents) can't handle that responsibility it should not fall upon those who teach their offspring to plug the gaps.

If anything, parents should be held to account for the manner in which they raise their children (although I'm not sure a child's BMI would be a suitable reason to drag somebody over hot coals).

You need a license to own a dog etc..

1:33 p.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

James, i see your point too, but still disagree.

If things went that way you may as well just let the kids be reared completely by the state as the parents would be completely redundant.

1:57 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Doc: I wouldn't argue against sports education and career guidance being in the school's realm - both have intrinsic value for the school; whether it is the football team providing a focal point for school pride, or an eventual Taoiseach graduating from a certain school (well... in most cases). Religion I would argue against, but that would be going off on a tangent which I fear I may not recover from.

Basically I just think that the parents need to accept responsibility for the young adults they set loose on the world when school is over and they have no-one else to blame. I think alot of the current problems with anti-social behaviour etc stems from this lack of responsibility and the education system shouldn't be the organisation to place this burden on.

2:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teacher play apart no doubt but the dude is expecting a tad much.

I am away in the morning. I just wanted to mention that it has been a pleasure and I really enjoyed the banter on this here blog. Take care me aul muckers and mind yourselves well. Mmmuaahhh!


2:42 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Are you moving to foreign shores Nonny?

2:45 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Yourself and Twenty have finally consumated that attraction, eh Nonny?

2:56 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going to 'merica, America FUCK YEAH!!


3:02 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Timing - as they say - is everything.

3:09 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Thats certainly what the rhythm method teaches us, Conan.

So you and Twenty eloping then Nonny? Ah, fair play to yis.
You headin to the land of the patriot act for good?

3:17 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erm, The Major will turn over in his blog grave if he hears you making such accusations. Also, he is a married man and whilst quite lovely he is rather old. I am not sure for how long I’m going for it will depend on how quickly my nudder half can arrange a visa. My house and animals are here I’m sure I’ll be back some sunny day.


3:28 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Well, best wishes and hope you have a good time over there.

3:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you most kindly Mr. Sheepy Sir.


4:04 p.m.  
Anonymous Sniffle&Cry said...

Folks I think you’re racing for the moral high ground ( and doing a bit of an ostrich), on this one. What will happen if nothing happens if you get me?

Is there a problem ? Yes/No ?

The answer, to my mind, is a very definite yes. You see that Mac-chunkiness in kids everywhere now. How much? 20% -> 30% at a bad guess. ( between 2 & 3 kids in 10 – obese ) So the problem is there in front of us, and is probably getting worse as the nation’s eating habits continue to deteriorate. And it’s pointless trying to re-educate the parents (unless you can guarantee them a place on a reality TV show!)

Do we have a duty of care to the next generation to afford them the healthy lifestyle their own parents can’t give them? I think we do. And should this happen in school, why not?

The methodology and approach would have to be thought out( and sensitivity is a given here) , but yes in school. At a mercenary level, think of the future medical costs to the state is you don’t broach the problem now. You might not cure everybody, but if you halved it, it would be a huge improvement. Kids can apply huge pressure on their parents to make them change their own eating habits.

Is it worth taking a risk? Yes, and do it quickly.

It’s sorta too easy to say no to this one.

Hey, but don’t let the teachers turn this into a political football. Resource the fucker too.

4:05 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

BAH, I HATE TREADMILLS and cap locks.
Have a safe trip Nonny.
Docky- I respectfully disagree. Sorry the young lad couldn't cook a bloody egg, but one, that's the job of his parents and two if he was old enough to go college he was old enough to bloody read a cookery book, or indeed watch one of the myriad of cooking channels. Or he could even have asked one of his parents, 'say ma or pa, how the hell does one cook bacon.' I'm sure they would have explained it.

4:08 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

But are 2/3 out of every 10 children obese? There's plenty of the little buggers tearing around this neighbourhood and one on of them is chunky, but that could be because every time I see him he's eating ice cream/pops.

4:12 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Sniffle: it's not that the parents can't give their kids a healthy lifestyle, it's that they won't - and that is my bone of contention.

Yes, I agree that there is a problem. Is it the education system's responsibility to sort it out and provide that particular duty of care to the next generation?
I don't believe so.

4:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Sniffle&Cry said...

The obese ones won't be "tearing around" FMC. They're inside.

Sheep worrier, school is the right place to learn stuff, like the Doc. says, life stuff. It would need to be organised and managed though. But yes in school. Teachers wouldn't take ownership for keeping the child in shape, no more then they ownership for ensuring they're good at French.

This is education. So yes, the education system has a respobnsibility here.

4:36 p.m.  
Anonymous Sniffle&Cry said...

Same education system which is responsible for my spelling

4:39 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

It's the mentality that gets to me, sniffle.

"Why should I teach my kids not to be fat, unhealthy, unruly runts - let someone else do it. Why should I get a job to feed myself, my family and provide sky tv - let everyone else's taxes pay for it".

The more responsibility you take from people, the lazier they get.

5:01 p.m.  
Anonymous Sniffle&Cry said...

Fair nuff. I know what you mean about the mentality. And the lazy thing as well, yes. Is it you who said earlier, that you need a liscence for a dog?

I could easy get emotional about this. But I think we gotta go least worst and try to teach them to eat right.

5:09 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I think that was BA, but he's right. It's amazing the sort of shit adults get away with when it comes to children.

6:52 p.m.  
Blogger laughykate said...

And people wonder why there is a shortage of teachers coming through the system? (That's the case down here, anyway).

Hey Nonny, travel safe - ten bucks says you will find yourself back visiting FMC's cyberhouse within a month!

7:57 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

What is school fat camp now? This is one of the reasons why I stopped teaching high school.
I hated feeling like I was supposed to be a cop in the classroom.

2:35 a.m.  
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