Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Top UK university upsets students by encouraging them to work hard

Top ranking Cambridge University has really gone floppy on its attitude to students having to work hard.

When Professor Eugene Terentjev, director of studies in the natural sciences, e-mailed his students about the need to work hard and party less if they wanted to succeed, saying the course required their full attention it created shock waves.

Students were said to be horrified saying his stance was “extremely damaging“. The vice-chancellor  at Buckingham University (VCs are those over-paid people we keep hearing about who seem to do very little) accused him of “frightening impressionable undergraduates“. And mental health campaigners said the message was “neither appropriate nor acceptable“.

You might think him a bit of a killjoy for saying they would need their full mental capacity for the course with not much time for fun “Physical science is a VERY hard subject, which requires ALL of your attention and your FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you that will not be quite enough” but the reaction was way, way OTT.

He also had a dig at other universities where students drink a lot and have a good time, and even other courses at Cambridge saying that some of them sadly found that kind of behaviour acceptable. He did however finish by wishing them well and hoping they would succeed like previous students.

The mental health campaigning group Student Minds Cambridge was worried that the message could enforce feelings of “imposter syndrome” (where people don’t believe they are good enough and are there under false pretences).

The students’ union said it would have welcomed advice about work-life balance and ensuring you had enough rest between parties but didn’t like the message that having any kind of social life was unacceptable. It urged students adversely affected by the e-mail to seek counselling or see their GP. Definitely in snowflake territory if these so-called top students are so affected by an e-mail.

The university said that “the university believes that all first-year students in all disciplines, having undergone the thorough admissions process that Cambridge requires, have the capacity to succeed academically

That’s OK then. Stop worrying and do what you parents told you – work hard and don’t drink too much.

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Don’t leave a phone in your child’s bedroom

talking_with_your_followers_1600_wht_9116Just the presence of a smartphone or device is enough to disturb children’s sleep patterns as they anticipate the possibility of getting a message and can’t relax.

Using devices  at any point in the 90 minutes before bedtime more than doubles the risk of a poor night’s sleep.

Even leaving it charging in the corner can have a detrimental effect, possibly because children are subconsciously engaged with them if they know they are within earshot.

Researchers ta Kings College London examined the digital behaviour of 125,000 children across four continents. It’s known from previous studies that around three-quarters of children and adolescents have at least one device in their bedroom at night.

Screen-based media may adversely affect sleep in different ways: psychologically stimulating the brain, delaying or interrupting sleep time, and affecting sleep cycles, physiology and alertness. They effect both the quality and the duration of sleep.

Sleep is undervalued but is an important part of a child’s development. Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to have negative effects including links with mental health issues.

Parents should take responsibility for this and be good role models. Those who never put the phone down themselves (addicted and suffering from FOMO) are acclimatising their children to the idea of always having one to hand.