January 2017 archive

Homework should go in the bin. End of.

Yes homework should be banned. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – children need to be allowed to be children. The school day is jam packed enough with academic and educational lessons, and in my opinion that is where it needs to stay.

Homework is a complete and utter waste of time. It helps no one, least of all the children and I can say this with absolute confidence having been a primary school teacher and assessment leader who has monitored the impact of homework on children’s learning and their knowledge retention. Homework is often fought against by the children and then it creates tension, which leads to huge battles that only serve to make exhausted and tired children feel even worse about themselves and their learning.

Children are naturally inquisitive and motivated. They just are. But the pressure piled on by the government and schools with regards to their education stamp this out of them bit by bit, until they no longer want to learn and are no longer enthusiastic about school.

Home should be the place where children are allowed to relax, play, and be taught age appropriate skills that serve a purpose in their lives. Swimming, bike riding, cooking to name a few. They do not need to sit down at the dinner table and spend the precious few hours after school with their parents struggling with yet more work.

Homework takes away quality family time. There is no time to go to the park after school, or go swimming or bowling or do anything, because the school day does not stop at half past three anymore. And on top of that, many parents often feel inadequate because they don’t understand homework set and cannot help their children. How great is that, setting something that makes the entire family feel like a piece of crap.

I wish now, just like I have wished for the last few years, that people would realise that children are not work horses good for nothing but doing academic work until they leave school and then have to go out into the real world. They don’t deserve to have their childhood sucked away from them by people who truly believe that bringing a horse to water will make them drink. Throwing extra work down children’s mouths will not turn them all into geniuses. Ask a fish to climb a tree and it will fail, yet breathe underwater and it will excel. What about those children who are destined to be creative? Those who could be inspirational artists or award winning designers? What about those who will excel in the West End or inspire the next generation somehow? How does homework help them?

Being academic is not for everyone. And making parents force their children to consolidate the learning they have done at school is unfair. That is not a parents’ job. As parents yes, of course, we want to and can encourage and support our children through their time at school, but we do not need to become their second teacher. We are their parents. Their carers. The people responsible for helping them grow into independent and confident adults who are not afraid to chase their dreams.

When will this obsession with academia being the sole focus for all children end? When will education teach them skills they could not survive without at adults? Allow for individuality? Allow for creativity?

When will children be allowed to be just that…children? Without a fear of failure. Without pressure. Without stress.

Children are the most magical and wonderful human beings on this planet and they are the only things that can offer hope and inspire change. And change is what we desperately need because the current state of the world is one that is going to require resilience, empathy and compassion in bucket loads.

Take your child to the park. Show them the world if you can. Open their eyes.

And throw the damn homework in the bin.

Since when did healthy equal skinny?

Diet: a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. “I’m going on a diet”
synonyms: dietary regime, dietary regimen, dietary programme, restricted diet, crash diet

 

I bet I can guess how the majority of your conversations are going this January.

Let me see….

Someone is doing dry January. Someone else has joined weightwatchers. Another friend has given up sugar and a different one is rebelling against it all and scoffing everyone’s left over Christmas chocolate.

Am I right?

And yes, all of these things are well and good, and being healthy should be encouraged, but I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the fact that most people are doing these things because they feel pressured to lose weight. Because they have been conditioned for years and years to believe that if they are not slim then they are not healthy or attractive or good enough. The diet industry and advertising work hard to make us monitor every morsel and scrap of food we put in our mouths and then feel guilty and like failures when we do not achieve ‘slim’ status.

And I for one have HAD ENOUGH.

For starters being slim does not equal being healthy. Many diets encourage you to rob your body of vital nutrients, which then, along with having a 95% failure rate anyway, damage your body even further, and make it highly likely that your metabolism will be permanently screwed and you’ll end up gaining weight in the long term.

And anyway, who decided skinny was the ultimate make of body in the first place?

When I meet with my girlfriends the majority of the conversations we have focus on our bodies, and our self-loathing of them. Someone is always trying to ‘be good.’ Someone else is also always complaining about how fat they feel. No one is ever happy.

But also no one ever seems to address their health, mental or physical, with the same level of importance. When we greet each other we say, ‘Oh you look well,’ or ‘have you lost weight?’ Never ‘Oh you look happy today!’ or ‘have you been inspirational lately?’ We always focus on what we look like on the outside and it is ALL wrong. And it is also an unhealthy way to behave as it perpetuates the belief that unless we are skinny we are not attractive, are lazy and greedy and not good enough.

But we are all good enough. Our bodies are the most magical and amazing things no matter what shape or size we are. OK, yes, being morbidly obese isn’t great and in that case a sensible plan of eating and exercise is without doubt what is needed, but most of the people I know who feel like a fat piece of crap are way below the average size of a woman. And yes, I know it’s also ‘all relative’ and about how that person feels about themselves personally, but again, I reiterate, who the hell decided skinny was the goal we should all strive for? When did curves become a bad thing? Who decided curves needed to be photoshopped out of existence in magazines and posters?

If you are doing dry January or are giving up refined sugar then I applaud you, but please do it for your health, and don’t for one minute think you’ll be happier if and when you are skinny. It doesn’t work like that. We’ve been conditioned to believe it does and that skinny = perfection, but I want to challenge that. Body image at the moment is messed up and we are raising a generation of girls who are becoming anxious about their weight as young as seven.

Stop focusing on weight and focus on health. On feeling energised. On enjoying life for it is often too painfully short.

You’re all blooming gorgeous – believe it!!!

 

This post also appeared on The Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/../../jen-faulkner/since-when-did-skinny-equ_b_14101574.html