Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Toddlers' irregular bedtimes 'hit results at school': Children without a set routine aged three achieve lower scores in maths and reading tests at seven

But why?  Could it be that dumb parents don't restrain unwise behaviour among their kids?  And dumb parents usually have dumb kids

Children who go to bed at irregular times when very young do worse in school later on, research has found.  Those without a set bedtime as three-year-olds achieved lower scores in maths, reading and IQ tests when they were seven.

The disruption, in which girls were shown to be more strongly affected, may restrict children’s academic achievement for the rest of their lives.

Experts believe that sleep is extremely important for very young children as it gives their brains a chance to process all they have learnt the previous day.

If it is disrupted when they are young, it may hinder their ability to learn which could affect their overall achievement for the rest of their lives.

Academics from University College, London, compared the test results of 11,200 seven year-old children in maths, reading and overall IQ.

They looked back at records of their bedtime routines when they were three, five and seven.

Their parents had previously filled-in questionnaires every few years on what time children went to bed and whether it was the same every night.

The study showed that children with irregular bedtimes at the age of three performed significantly worse in the tests at the age of seven.

Scientists think that sleep is a crucial time when the brain absorbs all the knowledge and new skills that have been ‘learned’ during the day.

It is particularly important for three year old children who are at a crucial stage of development and if disrupted, may affect have life-long effects.

Professor Yvonne Kelly, lead author, said: ‘Early child development has profound influences on health and well-being across the life-course. Therefore, reduced or disrupted sleep, especially if it occurs at key times in development, could have important impacts on health throughout life.’

Children were most likely to have irregular bedtimes when they were three – a fifth did not go to bed at the same time every night.

They tend to get into more of a routine as they get older and by the time they were seven, more than half went to bed at the same time every night.

But the researchers are concerned about busy parents who tend to push-back children’s bedtimes to spend more time with them.

Professor Kelly added: ‘Families are prone to demands on time that might adversely impact on routines important for healthy development in young children.

‘Our results suggest that having a regular bedtime is important alongside other aspects of family circumstances.’

The researchers also speculated that children who did not have set bedtimes each night tended to get less sleep.

Some studies have shown that primary and secondary-school children get an average of an hour's less sleep than they did 30 years ago.

Scientists have put this down to the demands of homework and extra-curricular activities as well as television and computer games.

Israeli researchers have shown that children who do not get enough sleep lose the equivalent of two years of learning.

Academics from Tel Aviv University found that 11-year-olds who slept for an hour less than their classmates got the same scores in concentration tests as nine year olds.


An Education in Debt

Tom Purcell

I don't understand what they are thinking.

I speak of the nearly 37 million Americans who owe roughly $1 trillion total in student-loan debt — most of it FEDERAL student-loan debt. And that's for loans taken out before the interest rate on new, federally subsidized student loans doubled a little over a week ago.

The numbers are staggering. According to the informational nonprofit American Student Assistance, the average student-loan balance stands at around $24,300. A rough breakdown shows that:

• 4.175 million borrowers owe more than $28,000.

• 1.67 million borrowers owe more than $54,000.

• 501,000 borrowers owe more than $100,000.

• 167,000 borrowers owe more than $200,000.

I sure hope these people aren't English majors.

But it gets worse. When you factor in credit cards and money bummed from family members, says CNN, each member of the Class of 2013 owes an average of $35,200.

Why do students owe so much these days? The main reason: Tuitions have been soaring, far outpacing both medical and cost-of-living inflation for more than 30 years.

Recent tuition increases are in response to state-funding cuts. Many states, which have to balance their budgets, are giving state universities less — and to cover the shortfall, state universities have increased tuitions.

Universities are able to keep increasing tuitions, in part, because lax lending policies allow most any student to borrow more to cover the increased costs.

A sixth-grader can see the correlation between easy borrowing and the steady increase in college tuitions. To wit: School tuitions have continued to soar because they are able to.

And boy, have some student-loan borrowers racked themselves with debt.

Don't many of us know someone who borrowed thousands of dollars for culinary school — and now makes 10 bucks an hour?

We know of college graduates with jobs that don't require college degrees working second jobs to come up with the $1,000 or more they need to meet monthly student-loan repayment obligations.

That goes for those who are paying back their loans. Nearly 10 percent of student-loan borrowers are defaulting.

I was lucky to graduate from Penn State in 1985 owing only $7,500 in student loans.

Had I been able to borrow lots more, I surely would have tried. Then I could have lived in the lap of luxury, the way many college kids do today.

I surely wouldn't have worked during my college days as a stonemason, dishwasher, janitor, handyman, grass-cutter and bouncer — though as a bouncer, I received the most respect I ever got, then or now.

To raise additional funds, I went to a medical clinic twice a week and sold my plasma. They sucked out my blood, spun off the plasma, then gave me my blood back — for $10.

Those lousy plasma donations nearly killed me, though — my mother, who dedicated her life to giving her children good health, almost strangled me when she found out why I was so pale.

I managed a rooming house during my senior year. It was a big old dump of a place, complete with cockroaches in the kitchen, but I lived there almost free to slash my costs.

My mentality was shaped by my father, a child of the Great Depression. My father has always shunned debt and favored hard work.

When he learned I had become an English major, he begged me to take up something more practical. I was the only person ever to graduate from Penn State with a major in English and a minor in air conditioning/heating.

In any event, we are finally reaching a point where younger generations are questioning the high costs of college education. Is the massive debt worth it?

I don't know the long-term answer to that. But if you borrow thousands of dollars to become an English major, you might want to minor in welding.


Australia: Dangers in push for university education equality

by: Kevin Donnelly

DOES every secondary student, regardless of ability, motivation or intelligence, have the right to go to university, and does increased participation, especially from disadvantaged students, compromise standards?

Newly appointed Higher Education Minister Kim Carr appears to say "no" to the first part of the question and "yes" to the second. In a recent interview Carr is quoted as saying that the dramatic increase in enrolments since the ALP government introduced a demand-driven system may have compromised quality.

Carr states, "given the strength of growth in demand, it is appropriate to (think about) quality and excellence" and "we need to consider refocusing government investment to get the best possible use of public money".

Carr's reservations are in striking contrast to Julia Gillard's belief, when education minister, that millions must be spent increasing the proportion of disadvantaged students entering university from 16 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020, and that increased enrolments would not lead to falling standards.

In a March 2009 speech in response to the Bradley review of higher education, Gillard argues that equity is an important moral issue and that the "hoary old conservative argument that equity and standards are incompatible is nothing but a myth".

In addition to establishing a National Centre for Student Equity and offering universities additional funding linked to enrolling greater numbers of disadvantaged students, Gillard argued in favour of positive discrimination for university selection.

Gillard is wrong. However unpopular it might seem, not all students have the ability or intelligence to cope with or benefit from a university education.

As US academic Charles Murray argues in Real Education, "academic achievement is tied to academic ability" and not all students have the same level of ability.

Take the subject of English. As someone who taught in Victorian secondary schools for 18 years, marked Year 12 papers and was a member of the Panel of Examiners, the reality is that students' language ability ranges from very poor to excellent as measured on a scale of 1 to 10.

Those students at the lower end of the scale find it impossible to cope with the demands of a university course as proven by the number of universities around Australia that now have bridging courses and remedial classes in areas like essay writing.

And concerns about falling standards are nothing new. A 2002 study titled Changes in Academic Work, involving interviewing academics at 12 universities, concludes that "almost one out of two of our respondents thought that the intellectual quality of incoming students had declined, and that this was a change for the worse".

The federal Labor government's decision to impose quotas for disadvantaged students only compounds the problem. As noted by the Group of Eight's Policy Note No 3, February 2012, the push for improved equity has led to a dramatic increase in the number of students with Australian Tertiary Admission Rank scores of 50 or less entering university.

Between 2008-11, offers to students with ATARs less than 50 doubled, representing "nearly 20 per cent of all growth in offers to school leavers". As a result, in teacher training courses, for example, it's not unusual for students with ATARs as low as 50 to be accepted.

Gillard's argument that all students are entitled to a university education, in addition to compromising standards, is guilty of privileging academic studies over vocational education and training.

ALP governments and the cultural Left, since the late 60s and early 70s when technical schools were closed around Australia, have long argued that a university education is the preferred option.

Ignored is that an apprenticeship or trade can be a valued, rewarding and challenging career. Also ignored is that the fact a working class student might prefer a trade to a degree does not prove the education system is elitist and inequitable.

The fact that trade and skills courses have been treated so poorly in terms of prestige and funding explains why, compared to many other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, Australia has such a low level of participation.

Based on 2010 figures the percentage of population aged 25-64 with vocational qualifications in Australia is just under 20 per cent compared with Finland, one of the top performers in international mathematics and science tests, where the figure is closer to 40 per cent.

While attractive to those on the cultural Left whose mantra is equity and equality of outcomes, the argument that universities should be open to all belies a levelling down, egalitarian philosophy that is counterproductive.

Far better is an education system based on meritocracy where only those considered capable are allowed entry. The alternative, as argued by the author and philosopher Iris Murdoch, is to promote a non-selective system, one that makes "the teaching of accuracy and truthfulness harder at all levels" and that will "produce people who imagine they are educated when they are not".


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