Irena Barker

Tes focus on...Uncertainty in schools

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Unsettling feelings can trigger a fight-or-flight stress response that can impact on teaching and learning, researchers warn. Irena Barker ponders what schools can do to make pupils and staff feel more secure in these unpredictable times

Covid: Uncertainty can spark a fight or flight response that can hinder learning in schools, says research

In 2013, academics looking at the psychology of dread carried out a seemingly cruel experiment. After attaching electrodes to the backs of 35 participants’ hands, they offered each person the choice between receiving a sharp electric shock immediately or waiting for a milder one. The researchers (Giles Story et al, 2013) found that 70 per of the time, the participants opted to receive more painful shocks right away. Anticipating an unpleasant experience was seemingly deemed worse than the experience itself.

This, and other similar experiments, illustrate that humans have a natural ...

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