NC Schools Restrict Teachers Saying ‘Please’ In Classroom

North Carolina schools restrict teachers’ use of the word please in the classroom as part of an initiative called No-Nonsense Nurturing Program (NNP), according to ABC News. The program was recently implemented at Druid Hills Academy in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School district.

Denise Watts is the Learning Community Superintendent for Project LIFT which oversees nine schools including Druid Hills Academy.  She told ABC news that over 250 schools in the United States use NNP in the classroom. She says that the NNP is used to “create a structured and consistent environment for students where teachers give them clear and specific directions about movement, volume, and participation.”

She goes on to say that when a teacher gives an expectation to students that “the word please is not necessary.”  She gives the analogy of the working world. She says, “No one would say, ‘Would you come to work today, please?’”

Watts says that NNP gives teachers and school administrators the tools to create a culture that consists of conditions that help students thrive by giving very specific directions and holding high expectations of students, resulting in strong relationships with students.

According to Jonnecia Alford, mathematics teacher at Druid Hills Academy, although there was student pushback at the inception, now the students love the program and enjoy the structure. She goes on to say that since using NNP, test scores have increased.

Among parents, however, there have been mixed reactions.

Parent Daren Guilford says, “I don’t agree with it, point blank, period. What about manners?” He adds that parents are asked to teach kids manners at home. But, he says that at school the kids are told, “You will pick the pencil up.” He says, “That’s not what I would call good communication skills with the kid.”

Parent Jamal Gibbs says the program “might be a good thing, considering that some kids need more stricter directions. Some kids don’t listen very well to politeness because of the things they’re going through in their homes, around where they live and where they’re growing-up.”

Overall, ABC says, “Parents of kids at the school have mixed feelings about the new program and its advice to use the word please ‘sparingly.’”

Godsman Elementary School says that part of the NNP is positive narration, which involves narrating behavior of students who are on task and not to respond to students who are off-task. Narration is “precise directions related to verbal behavior, movement, and participation.” For example, “Tim has his book out.” Educators are to narrate immediately after giving directions. In the first six weeks of program implementation they are to narrate “approximately every minute during instruction.”

The school website goes on to say that the objective of the NNP is for the teacher to “demonstrate a different kind of caring,” which involves use of a “strong teacher voice.” The program also teaches educators to identify and addresses “middle-class bias.”

One teacher shared his thoughts on his blog Teacher Roland. He describes the modeled teacher voice as spoken in “a direct, authoritarian manner”—a “militaristic” style of speech that is” short and commanding.”

He went on to say that though this might be effective at the classroom at the elementary level, he didn’t feel it would be necessary for older students, as they typically give the respect the teacher deserves to teach.

He goes on to say that his “assumption that students should give the respect a teacher deserves” is called “the middle-class bias.” He says that teachers like him who come from middle-class backgrounds “have developed a mindset that the middle-class expectations on how to interact with students is the normal and right way to do so for students from low-income backgrounds.”

As a result, this places a “stumbling block on effective teaching such as not being strict or mean. But having a strict and firm teacher voice is exactly what students from low-income backgrounds need in order to succeed.”

Such a program begs the question, what is the outcome? Since NNP is a relatively new program, we won’t know its impact on our children for years to come. By restricting the use of the word please, a culture shift is imminent. Traditionally, good manners is what has differentiated the United States among other countries in the area of customer service. Additionally, good manners, including the frequent use of the word please, is a major part of what defines the South.

This movement is reminiscent of Charlotte Iserbyt’s point from her book Revolution in Education – Soviet Style on News With Views that states that Benjamin Bloom’s purpose of education was to “change the thoughts, actions, and feelings of students,” and defined good teaching, as “challenging the students’ fixed beliefs.”

Image of Druid Hills Academy teacher via ABC News



Artificial Light At Night Raises Cancer Risk

Artificial light at night (ALAN) raises the risk for obesity and some cancers according to an Israeli study as reported by Israel21c. University of Haifa PhD student Nataliya Rybnikova says, “Researchers think this is because light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by animals and humans mainly at night.” She goes on to say that because melatonin is responsible for metabolic function, and ALAN influences metabolic function in people, the scientists wanted to know if there was a link between ALAN and body-mass gain.

According to the researchers’ summary, the increased exposure to ALAN may influence body-mass by suppressing melatonin production and, therefore, disrupt daily rhythms. This would result in “physiological or behavioral changes in the human body, and may thus become a driving force behind worldwide overweight and obesity pandemic.”

ALAN raises the risk for cancers like breast and prostate when light suppresses melatonin, the body is robbed of melatonin’s anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.

The Israeli website says that Rybnikova used satellite images to map levels of ALAN emitted from the ground. She then compared the information of over 80 countries with World Health Organization data specific to each country.

Local studies in Israel that revealed that the higher levels of artificial lighting in a neighborhood correlated with a higher frequency of breast and prostate cancer in that neighborhood. Ms. Rybnikova says that researchers adjusted for variables known to influence obesity like average birthrate, dietary patterns, gross domestic product and percentage of urban population. However, ALAN remained a “significant positive predictor for obesity.”

According to Dr. Mercola, there are multiple benefits of melatonin.  Melatonin combats inflammation, prevents cancers, strengthens the immune system, and may slowdown cellular aging, including that in the brain. It is the body’s “Superhero of the Night,” in which “light is his number one nemesis.”

Dr. Mercola points out that when you are exposed to a light at night, it immediately sends your brain misinformation about the light-dark cycle. The brain interprets the light as daytime. As a result, your biological clock instructs your pineal gland to immediately cease melatonin production. Consequently, whether the light is on for an hour or a second, your melatonin pump doesn’t turn back on when you turn the light back off.

Melatonin provides “particularly strong protection against reproductive cancers,” according to Dr. Mercola by slowing down cell division. This, in turn, combats estrogen’s stimulation of cell growth.

On his website he documents the following:

  • There is an increased cancer risk among women who work predominantly night shifts.
  • Nurses who work nights had 36 percent greater risk of breast cancer.
  • Blind women, whose eyes cannot detect light, have a hardy melatonin production, have breast cancer rates that are below-the-average.
  • Women who work the night shift have breast cancer rates 60 percent above normal.
  • In 2007 the World Health Organization classified shift work as a “probable carcinogen,” placing the night shift in the same health-risk category as exposure to toxic chemicals like trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

He goes on to say that the range of light that inhibits melatonin is 460 to 480 nm. Orange and red wavelengths do not suppress melatonin like blue and white wavelengths do. Dr. Russel Reiter suggests using a salt lamp with a 5-watt bulb in the orange and red color range to provide light during the night.

Reducing ALAN has the potential to prevent many of the health problems that we face. What are some ways to reduce ALAN in your home?

Image via Wonder Woman India Today