Hark the herald angels... or die;Sideways Look;The Week in Education;Briefing;News and opinion

10th December 1999 at 00:00
TEENAGERS these days are weighed down by more than adolescent angst: approximately two stone of books and equipment, puts them at risk of back problems. More lockers and storage areas in schools are the answer says the charity, Back Pain. Even better, it adds, is to keep children in the same classroom for as many lessons as possible.

While they're there, claims one school, they should be listening to classical music. King James comprehensive in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire has found the sounds of Mozart help pupils relax and concentrate better.

Wolfgang Amadeus's music has lasted for centuries, an achievement that the Spice Girls can only dream of. The girls were crowned Worst Group of 1999 at pop magazine Smash Hits poll-winners' party and Sporty Spice Mel C was booed by 14,000 fickle teenagers.

Children are, of course, equally fickle when it comes to playground fads - the latest of which is to copy US TV wrestlers. Their moves, including dropping each other on the head, are alarming school staff. Parents should note that the wrestling fad has also been fuelled by a toy, the Bashin' Brawler, a two-foot doll that screams when its head hits the floor. Joy for the Christmas list.

This macho mood has spread to the diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury, where 40 teenagers are rehearsing a nativity play, Secret Angels, that transforms the winged creatures into lethal, black-clad Bond-style

special agents. Dr George Carey was concerned that it was "a

little bit over the top".

Elsewhere, a dyslexic Bath schoolboy, deemed uneducable at the age of nine, has won the British Young Entrepreneur of the Year award after securing a pound;25 million contract to develop a new Internet search programme. Ben Way, now 19, said: "I hope it inspires confidence in other dyslexics." His former teachers must be feeling suitably

chastened.

Diane Spencer

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