Posts Tagged ‘School Programs’

Why Healthy Eating Laws in Schools Don’t Work

February 10, 2014



The late great Dale Carnegie wrote:

There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything … Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it.

It’s a shame that policy makers and school administrators don’t seem to have read any of Carnegie’s work because had they absorbed the quote above, perhaps they may have come up with something better to offer students.

People think that school represents the perfect place to undo parenting errors. They think that by bringing in a new school rule or program, that children will be set for life. Some of the rules and regulations in a school near you include:

– Anti-bullying programs

– Sex Ed programs

– Junk Food policies

– Playground no hugging rules

– Toilet rules

– Drug programs

– Anti-gambling programs.


And it goes on and on ….


Is this really a bad thing? What’s wrong with scrapping junk food from school?

Of course nothing is wrong with instilling healthy eating habits, teaching children about what constitutes bullying and how important it is to avoid drugs.  But to be successful you’re going to need more than a worthy cause.

The problem with schools taking on these issues is that schools already have a stigma for most children. Whether we like to admit it or not, most kids hate school and they hate what they are taught at school. So whether it’s a math or science lesson or its a discussion about the dangers or excess sugar consumption, the chances of breaking through are difficult. It requires a positive and creative approach.

And let’s face it, the programs eluded to above often look and feel like schoolwork. They often consist of worksheets and paired activities and feature mini-quizzes. Why do the people who put together these programs think that if they put an animal mascot on the front of the pack and crossword on page five that kids will warm to the content? No child has ever been fooled by such a gimmick.

And inflexible rules are worse. Sure, it’s not ideal for kids to be eating chips or popcorn at school, but taking away their treats is yet another way of reinforcing the stigma that schools are overbearing, ruthless and prison like. I just read that Brussels want to ban yogurts and cheese from school lunches. If I was a school kid in Brussels I would want to go home and douse myself in cheese just out of spite!

It is such a breath of fresh air when a great anti-bullying initiative or healthy eating idea surfaces. One that captures the students’ imagination and encourages rather than bans, nurtures rather than smothers.

If you want children to listen they must want to listen. Don’t shove draconian rules and anti-bullying packs down their throats. Give them something that doesn’t look or feel like school work.


Click on the link to read You Can’t Have Your Lunch and Eat it Too

Click on the link to read How Many Teachers Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? (Part 1)

Click on the link to read Girl Faces Expulsion for Being a Victim of Bullying

Click on the link to read Cancer Sufferer Claims she was Banned from Daughter’s School Because of her “Smell”

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

The Cure for Suicide Isn’t Another Educational Program

March 11, 2011

I think that schools should implement suicide prevention programs and should certainly train teachers in how to deal with students at risk of self harm and suicide.  However, often these programs are nothing more than scapegoats for schools with poor cultures to pretend they are dealing with the problem responsibly when they aren’t.

The program in itself sounds like a good one.

Dr Martin Harris, who is on the board of Suicide Prevention Australia, says a suicide prevention program should be considered as part of the new national curriculum.

“I think it ought not to be the prevail of a particular teacher, but it ought to be a program which is embraced in a robust way by a school when they think they’re ready to do it,” he said.

Mr Harris says mental health experts could prepare teachers on how to broach the subject in schools.

“I think for us to be saying, ‘well, it’s not my problem’, increases the risk of it being isolated and for it to be stigmatised,” he said.

“I think it’s high time the community took off the blinkers and looked more carefully about what they can and can’t do.”

But Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a child and adolescent psychologist, has dismissed calls for a suicide prevention program in schools.

“We’ve adopted a policy for as long as I can remember, that basically says let’s talk about suicide in terms of what leads up to it, which of course is by and large mental health problems; so suicide is the outcome of what happens when you don’t treat it,” he said.

“My view has been that we’ve been doing that very successfully for the last 15 years or so – the suicide rate’s come down. I see no reason at all why we should change our policy and I would urge schools to stick to their original idea and ignore the advice from Suicide Prevention Australia.”

My worry is that every time there is a glaring problem facing school aged children, somebody develops a school program to counteract it.  The advantage of a problem is that it creates awareness in students and encourages students to talk candidly and openly about important topics.  The disadvantage is that often all it ever amounts to is a lot of talk and very little real substance.

Suicide is indeed an issue facing our students.  Many of the reasons for suicide and suicide attempts relate to problems faced at school such as social pressures, bullying and academic pressures.  Schools claim to be safe, caring environments, but we know that many aren’t.  It can be argued that many schools come across cold, distant and out of touch with the issues facing their students.  Such schools should not be allowed to hide behind programs.  They should be pressured into changing their culture by spending as much time investing in connecting with their students as they do covering themselves legally.

In my view school’s must do a lot more than take on programs.  They must do everything in their powers to support and nurture their students.  They must fight for their students’ self esteem, help them find a sense of self and give them every chance to leave school with a positive attitude and real purpose.

If you think what I’m saying is just “airy fairy”, then you’d probably be in the majority.  Meanwhile programs come and go and problems still remain.

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