Computers top pupils' happiness league table

5th December 1997 at 00:00
Today's seven-year-olds like working on computers better than anything else + they do at school, new research has shown.Not only do they prefer computer work+ to mathematics and writing, they would also rather sit at their screens than + listen to a story, paint or do PE. Girls are as keen on using the computer as + boys - previous research has shown girls to be far more reluctant.The + researchers from the London School of Economics and the London Institute of + Education, surveyed 316 Year 2 children in six schools in four inner-London + authorities. The schools were chosen to provide a diverse cross-section of + social and ethnic backgrounds. The aim was to get a picture of their reactions + to the national curr-iculum. The children were asked to indicate how they felt + about various activities on a sliding scale from "very happy" to "very + unhappy". After computer activities, which elicited a happiness score of 92 per+ cent, came drawing and painting at 87 per cent and PE at 76 per cent. + Scientific experiments and listening to stories came next, with maths, reading + to themselves, weighing and measuring and writing stories clustering in the + middle of the table at around 60 per cent.The least popular activities were + "asking for help with spelling", science (as distinct from science + experiments), and practising handwriting. Around 36 per cent of the children + said these activities made them "unhappy or very unhappy".Significantly more + girls had positive attitudes towards certain school tasks: 70 per cent liked + reading to themselves compared to 55 per cent of boys. There were similar + differences in their reaction to handwriting, painting and reading aloud to an + adult. Girls were also more positive about going to school - 66 per cent were + keen compared to 49 per cent of boys. Children from Asian or Afro-Caribbean + backgrounds were more enthusiastic about going to school than children from + English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish backgrounds - 70 per cent versus 46 per + cent.Asked to elaborate on why they disliked certain activities, the children + cited boredom - mentioning reading schemes that were unexciting or too easy, + difficulty in mastering tasks (handwriting was mentioned frequently) and fear + of failure.The six and seven-year-olds were also asked about non-academic + school activities. While it is unsurprising to find that 82 per cent enjoyed + talking to friends and 79 per cent enjoyed playtime, the fact that 12 per cent + reported that these activities made them unhappy or very unhappy is disturbing.+ An alarming 21 per cent hate talking to the teacher, and 31 per cent hate + going to school.The researchers note that the pupils used computer software to + support a wide range of subjects across the curriculum, such as writing + stories, maths and drawing. They conclude that "there is a strong case for + harnessing these high levels of enjoyment and motivation in relation to + computers to enable the potential of all children to be realised". Children + find working on the computer rewarding because it offers immediate positive + feedback and a sense of satisfaction. However, the researchers also suggest + that because time on computers is still rationed in most schools, working on + them may possess a glamour which would disappear if they were + ubiquitous.Children's Attitudes to the National Curriculum at Key Stage 1. By + Anne West, Jean Hailes, Pam Sammons. Published in the British Educational + Research Journal Vol 23.

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