You would think that understanding our bodies, their parts, their organs and functions is surely an important part of any education. Equally important is the understanding of what makes those bodies function well, the lifestyle and nutritional habits which support them.
However these are never top curriculum priorities.
Many families who educate out of school have more opportunity to address this personal side of their child’s education, essentially because they have more choice about the subjects they study, time devoted to them, and more time to plan, cook and eat good food together.
But how well is the National Curriculum educating children in doing this? Or is this issue not a necessary part of education when there are more academic subjects to pursue? Should it be part of a curriculum at all or instead be left to parenting and family choices?
Child obesity, often covered in the news, is a contentious and sensitive subject. And it raises the question whether it is the job of education to help confront it, the job of the government to impose measures such as the sugar tax or controls on advertising. Or even whether it be considered a basic parenting issue.
Jamie Oliver has done much over recent years to improve the quality of children’s food and nutritional habits. His cooking and food programmes have been valuable in educating us all about what we’re eating and healthy ways in which we can enjoy our food.
His recent programme ‘Sugar Rush’ on Channel 4 revealed some shocking statistics about the impact on children of excessive sugar consumption, and how much hidden sugar is in our food, sometimes even in choices we would consider as healthy. And his latest campaign is for a sugar tax and clearer labelling on foods.
Whether we’re for or against the sugar tax, or targeting other issues like advertising aimed at kids, one thing the campaign is doing is raising our awareness. And it is valuable that we all, however old we are, educate ourselves about food, about its properties, be label wise and moderate our desire for sugary, fatty or fast foods that impair our health, and look to our general eating habits. Our own demonstration is what has the biggest impact on our children’s education wherever it is undertaken. Our parenting does make a difference.
So the matter of this being a policy, parenting or education issue is perhaps irrelevant. What is more important is knowing that we can as parents make a difference, we can learn about healthy eating, make responsible choices as a result, and this way help them be wise about their diet, health and lifestyle, whatever else is on the curriculum!