Education: fact or myth?
Look at the headlines of the five articles.
Without reading the articles, decide whether you think
they are facts ( F) or myths (M)
- The early bird catches the worm.....
- Pushy parents help children succeed
- The happiest day of your life
- Watching TV is bad for toddlers
- We all have genius within us
Read the articles and find out what the latest
Were you right? Are the
headlines correct summaries of each article?
Tick the best summary of each article
according to the information in the texts.
- Watching TV programmes
- seems to benefit all children up to the age of 16.
- is particularly beneficial for 2- and 3-years olds.
- is good for toddlers whatever the programme.
- According to Richard Roberts, 'evening types'
do better in intelligence tests because
- they sleep more.
- of their genetic inheritance
- they did the test in the evening.
- According to Matthew Melmed, the best way for parents
to help their children would be
- enrol them in extra classes
- to spend more time with them
- to put less pressure on them
- According to Dutch scientists the children's
stress disorders are probably mainly caused by
- the inability to sleep.
- problems at school.
- being separated from their parents.
- It appears that the 'brain zapper'
- has only been successful in some cases.
- had a negative effect generally.
- useful for teaching young children.
Find the nine words and phrases in bold
Suggest an alternative word with the same
meaning. use the context to help you
Example: a head
start in life - a better
start in life
Discuss these questions.
The early bird catches the worm .....
- Which research did you find most surprising?
- Do you think any of the findings might be dubious?
- Are the trends described in articles 3 and 4
happening in your country too?
The early bird may catch the worm - but people who
lie around in bed in the morning and work into the
evening are more intelligent, according to Richard
Roberts of the university of Sydney. The scientists
asked 400 volunteers to fill in
questionnaires to work
out if they considered themselves early-rising 'morning-
types' or late-working 'evening types.' Each was then
mental agility and memory tests. The
researchers discovered that the 'evening types' had
significantly better mental speed and memory. "The
results indicate that, contrary to conventional folk
wisdom, evening types are more likely to have
higher intelligence scores," Roberts told The Sunday
Telegraph. He also suggested that the link between
intelligence and working late may be a hang-over
from prehistoric times, when those who were still alert
after dark would be more likely to survive attacks by
Pushy parents help children succeed
Pushy parents may be doing their children more harm
than good, says Washington-based childcare expert
Matthew Melmed. Professional parents frequently
overstimulate babies and toddlers and buy them
educational toys that are too old for them in the belief
that they are improving their prospects. In fact, faced
with such demands, the children may become frustrated
and give up completely. Worse still, the children
recognise that they are disappointing their parents and
this sense of failure eats away at their self-esteem. The
warning comes as an ever-increasing range of educational
material is being produced for the very young in the US,
'hyper-parenting' is rife, says Johanna Coles in The
mothers are pressured into buying
CDs such as Mozart for mother to Be ('Build your
baby's brain!') while no self-respecting newborn would
be without educational videos including Baby Einstein and
Baby Shakespeare. By the age of one, enrolment in a
of classes, from Languages to arithmetic, is
The happiest days of your life
One in five modern children suffers from anxieties so
severe that they should be classified as psychiatric
disorders, say scientists from the university of
Maastricht. The researchers interviewed 290 Dutch
primary school children aged between eight and
thirteen; 20 per cent of them were beset with
worries so serious that they limited their ability to
lead normal lives, reports The Daily Mail. Many had
trouble sleeping; some were afraid to leave their
homes; others had problems interacting with their
peers. "Nobody is really sure exactly why this is, but
these disorders are caused by children internalising
their anxiety," said child psychiatrist Peter Muris. 'This
could be caused by parents being away from their
children for long periods or by children being
stressed at school. A parent who does not spend
time with their child could miss out on the fact that
the child has the problem, meaning it can be go
untreated and get worse.'
Watching TV is bad for toddlers
To give your children a head
start in life, sit them in
front of the television. A study of 200 American
preschoolers has revealed that toddlers who watch
TV for two hours a day develop more quickly than
those who do without. On average, the two- and
three-year-olds who watched TV scored 10 per cent
higher in reading, maths and vocabulary. However,
the programmes have to be aimed at their age group
- children derive
no benefits from watching TV
designed for adults. "Television opens up the word to
many young children and gives them a head start,
which is sustained in improved academic
achievement throughout their school lives;" said Aletha
Huston of the university of Texas. But the positive
impact of TV declines with age, reports The Sunday
Times. Older Children who watch more than 16 hours
of TV a week perform worse than their peers.
We all have genius with us
For years, scientists have speculated that the talents
possessed by so-called 'idiots savants' - as depicted
by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Main - may be
accessible to us all. According to professor Allan
Snyder of the university of Sydney, it is just a question
of switching off the conscious part of the brain. "I
believe that each of us has non-conscious machinery
to do extraordinary art, extraordinary memory,
extraordinary mathematical calculations," he told
The Daily Mail. Now, Dr Robyn Young of Flinders
university in Adelaide has tried to prove the theory by
using an electronic brain zapper to release the artistic
and mathematical skills of 17 volunteers. Using a
technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation,
Dr Young switched off the conscious part of the
volunteers' brains, then tested their skills in calculation
or drawing. The process did not turn them into
geniuses, but five showed performance.
Dr Young believes that the technique could eventually
be used to help children learn to read, or adults to
pick up a new language. In the meantime
the 'brain zapper' seems to do as much damage to the
brain as it does good. "We had a hard time
volunteers to get their brain zapped," admitted Young.
"One guy got lost on his way to work the day after the