Thursday, February 7, 2008

Global Warming and Students

There is a trend in school systems for students to become less focused as the school year draws to a close. Usually by the last week or so of school, after end-of-grade tests are completed, the kids have written off school in more ways than one. They seem louder and more hyper, more apt to break with school codes and not worry about it and in general more restless.
We have had a warmer week this week in the South. Yesterday was around 80F. This isn't so unusual, since Mother Nature does often like to tease us sometime in January or February with a warm spell, then hit us with cold weather again just to show who's in charge.
I have a question about global warming, however. With an overall warmish winter this year, are the students internalizing the earth's changes? It seems that they are moving into that end -of-year behavior early. I wonder if schools would be better off going year-round with breaks spread out. I personally love my summers off and look forward to them each year. But, the students seem to need more frequent breaks to keep them on task. Yes, there are a lot of factors that come into play with keeping students on task or focused on a lesson. Lack of proper sleep or diet, too much video game time, etc. certainly factor in. And then there's the "ADHD" that more and more kids are diagnosed with these days. Some I think is due to the aforementioned, but as an EC teacher, I can say there are actual true cases of this as well.
Overall, though, since the weather does seem to affect students (any elementary teacher will tell you the differences in his/her students on sunny or cloudy days), I would like to know if anyone else has thoughts on the effect global warming has on the average person's, especially children's, psyche. What do you think?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kathy,

Based on my experience with K-3 in Johnston County, in talking with parents and teachers, in watching Wake County, and seeing huge variability between schools in the same county, I think there are at least three parts to your question.

First, my first-hand impression is that schools themselves don't appear to take the time following EOGs seriously. For students that passed, the effort seems to be on 'rewards' that give the sense of teachers killing time.
These activities make the requirement to make up days lost to bad weather extremely difficult to swallow.

On year-round schools: I think it likely that the stress they can induce in families would outweigh internalized concerns about climate.

On Global Warming: Based on compositions I read for a middle scool Reflections competition, there is a lot of anxiety. There is also a disturbing amount of erroneous information (I have heard from two students, from two school systems, that we are cutting down trees so fast we will run out of oxygen - one even (mis)quoted an article in Time Magazine about decreasing atmospheric oxygen levels. (I spent seven years doing environmental engineering and permitting.)

I have a great deal of internalized anxiety over the warm weather. But with the children, I think it is a simpler matter: when you heat stuff up, it becomes more active. I think this is particularly true for 'molecules' who are tired, hungry, and stressed about other stuff.---Kathy V.

C.R. Evers said...

I've never really thought of it before, but if I were seriously going to look at this, I would first start looking at some of the warmer parts of the world that rarely see anything below 60 degrees. Parts of California, Texas, Florida, Bahama's, etc. What are their school systems like? What struggles and strengths do the children have that could relate to the climate? Then, once you have that info, then you could compare it to what you've seen during this warm winter.

Interesting question.

Alan Berman said...

I have taught in California public schools since 1989. We do have warm days a majority of the time, but all the rooms I've taught in have air conditioners--so, when the a/c has been out of service, the students are very low-energy, probably due to dehydration. If we had water in the classroom, perhaps that would pick things up a little, but the heat puts me to sleep too.