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Bad classrooms make for unhappy kids say researchers

By Colin Ricketts - 09 Mar 2011 19:29:0 GMT
Bad classrooms make for unhappy kids say researchers

Problems in the classroom can lead to problems in young minds scientists say, and it could be as simple as a teacher who doesn't have the respect of their colleagues according to the research published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

Sociology professor at the University of Maryland, Melissa AMilkie, led the team behind Classroom Learning Environments and the Mental Health of First Grade Children, and she says we should think of stress by the blackboard in the same was we think of stress at the office desk.

''Sociologists and other researchers spend a lot of time looking at work environments and how they are linked to the mental health of adults, but we pay less attention to the relationship between kids' well-being and their 'work' environments—namely their schools and more specifically their classrooms,'' she said.

''Our research shows that the classroom environment really matters when it comes to children's mental health.''

While schools measure how well their doing with test scores, Milkie argues that the general well-being of the child should be given more weight

''I think parents care a lot about their children's mental health—their emotional andbehavioral well being—but we as a society don't tend to focus on that as an important educational outcome nearly as much as we talk about and think about academic outcomes,'' she said.

Milkie's team looked at 10,700 first grade students selected to represent the make up of the American school population as a whole and measured four mental health problems: their learning ability; how they got on with fellow students; internal problems like feeling sad or anxious and external problems like fighting.

And children in poorly equipped learning environments or whose teachers weren't happy were worse scorers in all of these measures.