January 15, 2008

The body or the culture on teenagers' internal clocks?

Barbara from Las Cruces (NM) has the right question to ask in response to Nancy Kalish's wailing about the late clocks of teenagers:

I have contended for years with the inability of both of my sons to wake up any earlier than 7:30. However, it is not just the body's inner clock that contributes to the issue. Heavy homework commitments and late-night sessions at the kitchen table and computer are another factor in going to bed after 11 p.m.

... not to mention after-school activities, socializing, work, and so on. Maybe it's because I'm neither a physician nor a psychologist, but "it's the hormones" is not a very persuasive argument until someone does some solid experimental research (uh, yeah, who's going to participate in a RCT on this?) or otherwise filters out the effects of modern life.

That doesn't mean that bell schedules can't move. Maybe we should accommodate late-night schedules for teens by moving the start of school back. But let's acknowledge that part of this is to accommodate adult perceptions of priorities rather than some inherent biological clock.

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Posted in Education policy on January 15, 2008 11:47 AM |