Sunday, May 07, 2006

Kerre Woodham: Schools should wake up and cater to teenage sleep patterns

Sometimes when I'm lying awake at four in the morning, as you do when you reach the magical age of 40, I think of my teenager lying in the arms of Morpheus in the next room and I am consumed with envy. Morpheus being the Greek god of sleep of course, not the six-packed son of some West Coast hippies.

Nobody can sleep like a teenager. When the young things do actually stagger into bed, after working through the night to finish an assignment or slinking home after a party that lasted until the sun came up, they sleep like champions.

If sleeping was an Olympic sport, they'd get 10 for performance and 10 for technique. Waking them to get them off to school seems just plain cruel, although I suppose it is parental payback for all those times they bounded into your bed as toddlers at quarter to six in the morning.

And really, you have to wonder, as you send them off bleary-eyed into the cold harsh light of day, how much information is going to be retained as they slump over their books at school.

So full marks to a team of junior scientists at Wellington High School whose video documentary on teenage sleep patterns convinced the school decision-makers that lessons for senior students will now start from 10.15am.

And good on the principal for being prepared to cede to a reasoned and intelligent pitch. Senior lateness has just about vanished apparently so both the school and the students are winners. It's good to see commonsense can still be learned at schools.

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