Johnny's being naughty again ... is it a full moon?

29th February 2008 at 00:00
Forget the jokes about werewolves: teachers have been gathering evidence to show whether a link exists between poor pupil behaviour and the full moon.

A connection between madness and lunar cycles has been suggested for thousands of years and is evident in the word "lunatic". Teachers have also long been aware that the weather, particularly strong winds, can make pupils act up.

At least two British educationists have been researching the impact of the lunar cycle on classroom discipline. Sue Moore surveyed school and childcare staff online this month and found that 65 per cent believed full moons changed pupil behaviour. Hilary Penny, a national strategies adviser, examined the subject as part of her education MA. "I looked at the effect of specific natural phenomena, including lunar phases on children's behaviour," she said. "I found some supporting evidence for children's behaviour to be more adversely affected during the third quarter, leading up to a full moon, rather than in the full moon phase itself."

Gordon Phillips, head of Meadows Sports College in Sandwell, a residential school for students with learning difficulties, believes behaviour can be affected for the three days before and after a full moon.

"The scientific explanation is that the full moon causes increased pressure on the earth - that pressure causes higher sea levels," he said. "Most children are very sensitive to the weather and high pressure and often this causes poor behaviour."

Research on animals is less conclusive. Researchers at Bradford Royal Infirmary looked at 1,621 patients admitted for animal bites and found the chances of being bitten were twice as high on or around full-moon days. But a Sydney University study, published at the same time, compared the dates of dog-bite admissions in Australian public hospitals over a year and found that full-moon days were associated with slightly lower numbers.

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