What are teachers for?

Michelle McBride writes about healthy eating in schools in her article called “It is not teachers who sneak chocolate in kids’ lunchboxes.” in the Independent on the 21st October 2015.

I agree with her that not every new social concern can be foisted on to the teacher’s desk but there are some issues within her article that made me start to think about the teacher’s role in school and society as a whole. Is the teacher’s role only in literacy, numeracy and the so-called academic subjects? Or should the teacher be expected to deal with the social, health and personal issues of their students?

The Teaching Council lays out one of our many functions, it tells us that teachers are expected to promote their student’s holistic development and develop lifelong learning skills

Also, in the Primary School Curriculum, one of the specific aims of schooling/curriculum is to “develop a foundation for healthy living and a sense of responsibility for his or her own health”. This is referred to on numerous occasions throughout the document before we even come to the SPHE curriculum, where lessons are taught explicitly in the area of health education.

A glance at recent research on this subject tells us that “Children are more likely to develop a taste for vegetables if they are offered with foods they know and like.” (Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Another study from the Nutrition Research Centre says that role models are the most important thing when helping children try new foods. There is so much information that is conflicting out there on the issue of health education!

But, neither Michelle nor any specific teacher can be held responsible for researching all of these new healthy eating initiatives. This is the role of curriculum makers and dietitians. Teachers are not dietitians and I am always weary at the idea of teaching what I think is healthy. Last year, it was the 5:2 diet and today, it’s all “Free from” foods. Will the government get up to date with the latest research on health education?

Michelle finishes by mentioning the teacher’s most loved subject areas of literacy and numeracy and how these are in “ a danger of being undernourished” due to her belief that teachers are taking on too many initiatives. While, she may be correct about curriculum overload, I think there is more to life and the school day than spellings and tables tests.

I believe that if we can help children to be socially and emotionally happy and healthy, that success will follow. Actually, it’s not only me who believes this, I can name countless studies that point to emotional and social literacy as being the most important skill you can develop in young children in school as a predictor of success. Cognitive skills can get a person so far. Cherry tomatoes will get you some way to living well but having good mental health will win every time.

Currently, the primary school curriculum has 30 minutes a week to teach everything there is to be taught about social, personal and health education. Michelle and I can agree that there is overload and that teachers cannot be expected to cover all social woes. But, what can we do? We can plan carefully for where we would like our children to end up as adults. That is the premise of all good education systems.

Michelle’s full article can be viewed here at http://goo.gl/dh5Ihl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting

Related Posts

A Look at the Action Plan for Education

The Action Plan for Education was published today by Minister Richard Bruton. The government

INTO Congress: A Lesson in how to do Congress

The INTO congress was on this week. You might have missed it because you

How to make denominational schools more inclusive

Around 96% of Irish primary schools are under the patronage of a religious body,

Primary Schools: Inclusive or Tolerant?

As most people know, there are a number of parents in Ireland who have

Infographic of Survey on Inclusiveness

I developed an infographic based on the data received from my survey on how

How inclusive are Catholic Schools?

Recently, The Irish Independent carried an article with the headline, Catholic Schools are as inclusive

Is it ethical to publish League Tables?

The Irish Independent published, what they called, a definitive league table of the best schools

The Mathematics of Patronage and Pluralism

Between 96% and 98% of Irish primary schools are denominational in patronage, which means

2016 Predictions

As we come to the last day of year, it is traditional at Anseo.net to make predictions

What will removing Rule 68 actually do?

One of the rules of National Schools that has been causing much debate over

Multidenominational: A long word, long-abused

The education landscape used to be an easy one to maneuver. Between the 1920s

Which dark stain will be removed in 2016?

Ask most teachers who the best education minister was and you'll most likely hear

Can the new NCCA Ethics Curriculum work in Ireland?

It always strikes me as odd the stories about primary education that get noticed

Why Pluralism in Education Doesn’t Work

I was listening to a debate on the radio about the Angelus last week.

Media Focuses on Religion during Maths Week

There were a number of stories in the newspapers and media this week surrounding

Thoughts on the Digital Strategy

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 is the latest attempt by the government to

Should we be Celebrating the 1916 Rising?

Earlier this week, two army officials came to my school to present us with

An Alternative to Droichead

Following my blog post on Droichead last week, I thought I might expand on my

Droichead: A bridge too far

Droichead is a new model of induction and probation for newly qualified teachers, which

No wishes for pay equality from INTO

This week an email went out to all INTO members to welcome them back

Burren National School: A symbol of the divestment process

Today, Educate Together announced that the proposed new Educate Together school in Castlebar was

Where do unbaptised children fit in?

I've been following the recent discussions about unbaptised children accessing primary education over the last

Lansdowne Road Agreement: Vote Yes or No?

I usually have strong convictions about issues affecting the education system but I am

Who are the role models in primary schools?

Last weekend, I was part of a panel at the Excited Festival of Learning

Anything to Gain from Gain Time? #DojoChatEU

I find it difficult to attend ClassDojo's chats every week so when this week's

Why We’re Voting Yes to Marriage Equality

Commenting on referenda is not something that we generally do at Anseo.net but the

Should schools be allowed to discriminate?

The headline grabber from the INTO congress was Jan O'Sullivan's announcement that new enrollment

Ten Things to Keep in Mind at INTO Congress

Every year, during the spring holidays, the media takes an interest in education as the

Swapping Books for iPads?

The Irish Independent reported recently  that an anonymous donor had given a school in Fermoy, Co

Is all well with the new well-being guidelines?

In the last week, primary schools all received their first paper-based document from the

Why the INTO need to support Marriage Equality

The campaign for marriage equality in May seems to be overwhelmingly supported by teachers

Safe Internet Day: Can one day save our children?

Today is Safer Internet Day and Webwise as usual are doing brilliantly, positive things

One School’s Plea to the NCSE

The new proposed NCSE model is likely to be sanctioned very soon. I wrote

IPPN 2015 Review

The annual IPPN conference, the largest educational conference in Ireland, where over 1,200 principals

Denominational Schools and the Upcoming Marriage Referendum

The upcoming referendum on marriage equality has sparked some conversation among teachers who work

Why we don’t need to start teaching coding in primary schools

Ciaran Cannon is one of the most innovative politicians I know and he is

2014-11-06 15.50.56
Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed: Web Summit

I was delighted to get the opportunity to go along to the Web Summit

Creative Commons Some rights reserved (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cell105/142887353/)
Primary Schools and Broadband: The biggest issue in education today?

Following on from a conversation on the wonderful CESI list, I thought I would

beginning teaching
10 Educational Books that have stayed with me

Facebook is awash with challenges from ice-buckets to listing how you're grateful for the

A short guide to religion in primary schools

Over the last number of years, the population of Ireland has changed. One of the

Why we should care about Ireland’s Human Rights Record in Education

Last week, the Irish government was given a major slap on the wrist for

Who Jan O’Sullivan shouldn’t Hire as her Advisor

Jan O'Sullivan is our new Education Minister and, as a new member to the cabinet,

Five more things the new Minister for Education should do…

Following on from Fintan O'Mahoney's excellent article, "Ten things the new Minister for Education

From Irish Independent
What will Ruairi Quinn’s Legacy be?

Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, announced his resignation today. The announcement was met with mixed

Is the NCSE reform even less equitable?

With much fanfare, the NCSE are reforming how resources are given to schools for

What does the end of XP support mean for Irish schools?

If you walk into most primary schools, you'll find a vast array of different

Draft Primary Language Curriculum Consultation:Your input needed!

Draft Primary Language Curriculum Consultation:Your input needed!I posted about the draft primary language curriculum

INTO Congress: How should teachers behave?

Teachers are professionals in the same way doctors and lawyers are. Society expects professionals

Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.34.32
4 Problems with the new Anti-Bullying Procedures

The government's anti-bullying procedures are to be ratified in all schools before the 11th

Are schools to blame for us not speaking Irish? (#edchatie)

This week's chat on #edchatie on Twitter was very interesting and the subject of

Fitness to teach is all about motivating teachers to love their job-Part 2

Self-actualisation and flowIn my first post on performance-related pay, I spoke about the process

From Irish Independent
Public Consultation for a new Digital Strategy for Schools

A couple of days ago, the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, launched a public

Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Cutting the cost of school uniforms? Why not cut them altogether?

Irish parents are to be balloted on school uniforms in the coming weeks in

Image taken from Coláiste Lurgan: http://lurgan.biz/2012/10/5-steps-to-secure-gaeilges-future-in-the-education-system/
How to save the Irish language

One of the most popular conversations I have with non-teachers is about the Irish

The Literacy Shed

In my free time, which isn't very much, I love, love, love writing and

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 15.15.38
Blog Awards show sharing breeds success

Last night I attended the Blog Awards in Naas. It was a glitzy affair,

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 21.34.06
Should Ask.fm be more socially responsible?

I'm currently asking some questions about social media in an attempt to see what

Image from Wikipedia
How will the new enrollment laws affect primary schools?

Ruairi Quinn has welcomed teachers back to school with new legislation surrounding enrollment in

Shouldn’t we ensure Web 2.0 is not anonymous?

I'm currently asking some questions about social media in an attempt to see what

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 22.47.23
A Step towards Paper-Free Roll Books

The Department of Education were busy during the summer making some more circulars and

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 21.34.06
Should we ban children from using Ask.fm?

I'm currently asking some questions about social media in an attempt to see what

Should we shut down Ask.fm?

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm asking some questions about social media in

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 00.12.24
JobBridge Controversy

JobBridge is a government internship scheme that that was designed to provide work experience

Should we be happy with Quinn’s U-turn on Resource Hours?

Today, the minister for education, Ruairi Quinn reversed the most recent cut he had

Cutting through the latest spin on cuts to education

A day or so after the majority of primary school teachers decided to vote

teacher alone-body
Irish Primary Classrooms according to ERSC study:Not the best!

StudiesYesterday, you may have heard about a study from the ERCS has found that

photo credit: albertogp123 via photopin cc
Why Standardised Testing plans are rubbish

Last year, as part of the government's literacy and numeracy improvement plan, primary school

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 23.34.31
Before you vote on Croke Park 2…

Croke Park 2 has caused a lot of discussion in the teaching community. The

Image from http://curtisagency.com
Textbooks, Post Holders and Teacher’s Autonomy?

I trained to become a teacher in the UK back in 2002 after "teaching"

The online rollbook is coming

Last week, at the IPPN conference, words that I never thought I would hear

Image from http://www.creditcards.com/
Wifi Warning or Scaremongering?

During the week, I received an email from an organisation called IDEA, with a

Predictions for 2013

Last year we predicted that 2012 was going to be the year of the

Anseo.net Review of 2012

Every December, we look back on the year and remember some of the highs

SSE: Shifting the Bell Curve

In my last article about the SSE (School Self-Evaluation), I wrote about how I

Image from: http://edusummit.info/
Couch Soundbite Doesn’t Sit Comfortably

There was something that grated on me when I saw the highly retweeted soundbite

Source: http://www.hutchnews.com/Todaystop/education-cuts-item-copy
Primary Education and the 2013 Budget

Ruairi Quinn has to make around €100m of cuts to the education budget today.

A Day Without Technology

Camara Education set a challenge to see if we could live without technology for

Thoughts after absorbing SSE

I'm largely in favour of the new School Self-Evaluation, (SSE), that was launched a

Gabriel Byrne is not a fan of the Gathering but that doesn't mean you can't be!
The Gathering Letter writing project

We all heard about the Gathering and we all probably heard Gabriel Byrne venting

Do Teachers need Honours Maths?

 What does atan(y,x) do? If you did well in your Leaving Certificate Honours Maths

Should teachers be techies in 21st Century schools?

Following a very interesting tweet on last week's #edchatie, a contributor said that teacher

Screenshot from Irish Times article
Killing Primary Education

Back in October, The Irish Times ran a feature outlining the most influential people

Interviews via Video Conference

A few years ago I was asked an interesting question about whether it would

Technology in Schools in the Dark Ages?

Great - another article damning schools and the Department of Education for failing the youth

Screen Shot 2012-04-10 at 12.54.49
INTO uses Social Media during Congress

It's good to see leadership in education. An example of this is in the

Do we need Teaching Council 2.0?

It hasn't been the best couple of months for the Teaching Council. Established six

Best Schools? Another missed opportunity.

Sunday newspapers often feature supplements on different topics. This week the Sunday Business Post

Technology and Pedagogy – not a chicken and egg

The IPPN conference is the biggest conference for primary school prinicpals in Europe with

Something to think about Ruairi Quinn (Part 3)

The final part of my letter to Ruairi Quinn... Has there been any mention of

Something to think about Ruairi Quinn (Part 2)

Continuing from my letter from the last day, here is part 2... Instead, in the

Something to think about Ruairi Quinn (Part 1)

After attending the BETT conference in the UK, I experienced Michael Gove for the

Thoughts on Ruairí Quinn's Plan for Literacy and Numeracy

Ruairí Quinn has figured out how we can improve literacy and numeracy standards in

Survey Results: Web 2.0 in Schools

As part of Anseo.net's competition to win a HD Flip Cam, participants answered some

Should Moodle be used in Primary Schools?

Moodle is a tool for creating online courses and virtual learning environments (VLEs).  When

A Wordle image of Fine Gael and Labour's Education Policies
Labour – Fine Gael Education Programme

With a new government in place, a few decisions between the two parties had

What do Jedward and Positivity Week have in common?

There is a link, trust me.I am a member of the IPPN but that

A Reaction to Falling Literacy and Numeracy Levels

I wanted to comment a bit on some of the proposals from the government

PISA reveals worrying results for Ireland

According to the research of PISA 2009, only 6.6% of students questions did not

We need an update on kids' safety.

Here’s a transcript of Rozz's recent article published in the Think Tank section of

ICT Grant = Demise of Gaeilge?

Recently, Irish primary schools were allocated a share of €25 million from the Department

Where do you like to sit when you are the teacher?

The Desk at the top of the classroom! (and organisational settings for you to

Technology Upgraded, Teaching Downgraded?

I remember my first day at school vividly because everyone laughed at me.  My

Douglas Adams, The Fourth R and Learning

I was happy to see that technology was on the agenda at the annual

12 reasons to have Computerised Roll Books

Imagine it's 11:30am on June 30th.  What are you doing?  Apart from trying to

International Study of Interactive Whiteboards

Last year I took part in an international study of Interactive Whiteboard use.

Saving Money for ICT

I came across a great article from Open Source Schools, a British web site,

Why don't VEC primary schools have web sites?

If I want to find out about a school for a particular reason, the

ICT in Education Conference 2010

Last year was the first year I attended the ICT in Education Conference in

A Case for Computer Rooms

Computer rooms were on top of every primary school's wishlist back in the late

Social Networking and Bullying

With the news that Bebo may soon be no more,  I asked colleagues was

My Twitterversary

I've been using Twitter for a while now and am about to tweet for

What have the Teaching Council ever done for us?

Have recently discovered Inside Education on 103.2 Dublin City FM. Simon introduced me to

Why IPPN works

I'm reading a fascinating book at the moment about how the net generation think,

The brains of Spain are mainly very sane

I was sent a press release from Promethean Ireland entitled "Promethean Wins Major Spanish

Talkin' 'bout iGeneration

I'm a big fan of Conor Galvin, from UCD's school of education.  I have

Technical Support in Schools (Irish Style)

We all know that primary schools are underfunded. We all know that the

€150m for Smart Schools isn't smart at all

I feel that I should reiterate that I have deep concerns about the €150m

Why Blogging is Best – a digiteach article

I was asked to write a follow-up article about my workshop at this year's