Shanghai’s air quality is very up and down, but mainly down! School children have recently spent days ‘locked’ in their classroom due to increasingly suffocating air outdoors -it’s ‘not’ so much about education outside the classroom, but rather keeping kids sane indoors….
Shanghai’s air quality will improve Monday as strong winds continue to disperse the pollution that settled on the city last week, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center predicted Sunday.
The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) peaked at 166 at 3 am Sunday, indicating a moderate level of pollution. The main pollutant then was PM 2.5, or particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter, according to the monitoring center.
The AQI subsequently fell as a cold front blew into the city from the north, bringing stronger winds but also sand particles that prevented the air quality from improving very much, said Zhao Qianbiao, a monitor with the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.
By 1 pm, the air quality was considered lightly polluted, with PM 10 accounting for most of the pollution. Besides sand particles, coal soot is the primary source of PM 10, Zhao said. PM 10 doesn’t penetrate the lungs like PM 2.5 does, but it usually irritates the eyes and nasal passages.
PM 10 is harmful when its 24-hour reading surpasses 150 micrograms per cubic meter, according to Zhao. The PM 10 reading peaked around 200 early Sunday morning, according to the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.
Zhao advised children and residents with heart and respiratory illnesses to cut back on outdoor activities and wear masks when they go outdoors.
The wind arrived in the city with Saturday night’s cold front, Zhao said.
The high temperature plunged to 11 C Sunday, down from 29.5 C on Saturday, which was the highest temperature on that date in 100 years, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
The high temperature will range from 10 C to 19 C from Monday to Thursday and the low temperature will range from 5 C to 8 C.
The city will experience rain showers on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, the weather bureau said.
Schools open in a month so there’s time to get your kids – and you – confident on your bikes, and to plan the best (and safest – this blog writer’s biggest concern!) routes. The Guardian reports
It is easy to forget how much fun cycling is for kids. It is sociable, and one of the most popular out-of-school activities, yet only 1% of primary and 2% of secondary school children cycle to school.
With a month before going back to school, now is the perfect time to get your kids (and you) confident on their bikes for next term. So how do you set them off on the right foot?
1. Find your route
Your cycle route isn’t usually the way you would drive. Quiet roads or even off-road options are safer and more enjoyable. The National Cycle Network covers most areas in the UK and you can look up your nearest cycle lanes and traffic-free routes on Sustrans’ website or smart phone app.
Try the route out together, and if you are concerned about any part of it contact your borough’s school travel adviser or cycling officer about planned route improvements. Get together with other parents and your school, as several voices are better than one.
2. Choose the right bike
Having trained briefly as a cycling instructor I often notice children wobbling about on bikes that aren’t right for them. Ben Bowskill, Sustrans’ Bike-It officer, says the best option is usually the simplest as kids are attracted to bikes that may be unsuitable for the road, such as heavy mountain bikes. Make sure the bike is the right size for your child and that it is comfortable – brakes, for examople, can be adjusted for small hands.
Avoid buying a flat-pack bike online and assembling it incorrectly. Instead visit your local bike shop to test out a few bikes and get free advice. Your child will spend a lot of time on it, so it is worth investing time to find the right one.
3. Take cycle training
Bikeability – national cycle training – gives you and your child peace of mind that they will be safe on the road. Most primary schools offer Bikeability but places are limited so be ready to say “yes” when the opportunity arises.
Level 1, in years three and four, teaches bike control in the playground; Level 2, for years five and six, visits quiet roads, managing junctions and teaches manoeuvres. If you want training outside of school, CTC has a list of cycle instructors.
4. Practise your skills
Go out as a family. As a parent you want to be confident your kids are safe, and you can lead by example. Bowskill suggests you ride behind the child so they feel protected and you can travel at their speed. If there are two adults, one can ride in front and one behind.
5. Make it fun
Start with short, manageable trips. Often kids don’t get the chance to practice during term time so now, during the holiday, is the perfect opportunity to build cycling into everyday life.
Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood, says: “I think it’s children’s independent trips – to friends, to the shops, to parks – that are of most importance to their long-term health and wellbeing.” A good foundation will give them confidence to cycle into adulthood.
6. Gather cycle buddies
Ask around your neighbourhood – if other local children and parents want to cycle to school, why not ride together as a group? Damien Walker, a parent in Ealing, west London, cycled to school with his sons and other families for years.
He says: “If there are several cyclists together people treat you much more sensibly. For us the local school run was brilliant. Some days we would cycle them to school and they would come home on their own, sometimes we would go because it was fun to do.”
7. Get the school involved
Washingborough school in Lincoln went from two bikes in dilapidated sheds in 2009 to about 100 bikes every day in new sheds (one of the barriers to cycling to school is lack of safe places to keep a bicycle), all thanks to enthusiastic teachers; and the school even organised a three-week Big Pedal event.
Now staff, parents and pupils cycle, while maintenance workshops recycle abandoned bikes to sell on to the community. And all this without route improvements. Jason O’Rourke, the headteacher, says the success is largely due to Jonothan Moody, the teacher who got everyone involved. “Schools have nothing to lose,” says O’Rourke. “There is no cost at all; it is fantastic for bonding the community and we know we are doing the right thing.”
- Bikeability: Cyclists are all geared up for free training (peterboroughtoday.co.uk)
- Cycling Across Scandinavia: Rudolf Steiner Found, Thanks to James Turell (treehugger.com)
- More Bike News: David Suzuki on Bike Lanes, The Guardian On Toronto’s War on Bikes (treehugger.com)
- bike apps (surfabike.wordpress.com)
From The Guardian newspaper
Veteran presenter says nature classes should be on a par with maths and English for children ‘estranged’ from the natural world
Classes on the environment are just as important as lessons in maths and English for today’s children, veteran natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough has told the Guardian.
Attenborough, the voice of television natural history programmes for more than 50 years, said most children now grew up with “very little” direct contact with the natural world and were “estranged” from non-human forms of life.
The 84-year-old naturalist said learning about nature should be “on a par” with lessons in maths and English in schools. “As our children’s world is changing, our planet is also in increasing peril,” Attenborough said.
“Climate change and habitat destruction are problems facing our generation and those of our children. In order to equip the next generation to face these problems, it is crucial that children grow up with an understanding and respect for our planet. Human beings depend on the natural world for everything. We are going to have to make increasing demands on people to care for the natural world.”
He said teachers had “enormous power” to influence the thoughts and actions of their pupils. “Bringing nature into the classroom can kindle a fascination and passion for the diversity of life on earth and can motivate a sense of responsibility to safeguard it.”
Many children used to get to know the natural world in the countryside, but now many learn about nature at school, he said. “School grounds are absolutely invaluable if they can be used to give children things like ponds, places where children can grow their own plants and see animals.” But, he said, unfortunately some urban schools had playgrounds that were just tarmac.
Attenborough yesterday told teachers how the national curriculum could be used to inspire children to learn with nature. He was speaking at the Association for Science Education Conference, held at Reading University, where he launched an encyclopaedia about life on land to be used in schools and universities.
Alexander Report highly critical of education as it stands
A ‘play-based’ approach, both in and outside of the classroom and natural areas of the schoolgrounds, is beneficial for children that have these opportunities. I have seen this with my own eyes. We should also be starting formal education much later – aged 5 or 6!
Education made the front pages this week, with the 4-year report by Prof Robin Alexander, of Cambridge University on the state of education giving the Government a ‘poor’ in many areas…
The Government response, in a nutshell was: ‘we’ve had the Rose Review’ (sponsored by Government) which says we need to focus on ICT, Numeracy and Literacy … and science and the environment will happen by absorption! Note that the Government DOES NOT have to implement the Cambridge Review!
Some key points of Cambridge Report:
* ‘Primary education should amount to much more than basic literacy and
My view: I agree! Children need a balanced curriculum including learning about the world about them – about, in and for the environment. Children can then use their environment – natural and built – using a source of inspiration for their writing and numeracy! This is also the view of the National Association for Environmental Education.
* Alexander praised the role of existing classroom “generalists” who are expected to teach all subjects. But it said there were concerns that some failed to provide the “expertise which a modern primary education requires”.
My view: Science is a key area in which schools that have a single or specialist teacher that undertakes this subject – as part of teachers ‘PPA’ time – children are better engaged in this area and the subject is often better resourced. I taught Science and Design and Technology and consider my specific focus on this subject and better collection of resources, than class teachers would easily be able to assemble, were an advantage.
* Children responded better to a “play-based” curriculum at a young age and insisted it would not hold them back in later life. Dame Gillian Pugh, the review’s chairman, said:
“If you introduce a child too formal a curriculum before they are ready for it then you are not taking into account where children are in terms of their learning and their capacity to develop. There is no research evidence that shows that early access to formal learning does children any good and quite a lot of good evidence to show that it actually can do some harm,” she said. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/6338700/Primary-review-start-formal-lessons-at-six.html
My view: Play-based approach using the resources both in and outside of the classroom/in the playground and natural areas of the schoolgrounds/local parks, has proved highly beneficial for children that have these opportunities. School grounds and Forest schools movements, and more specialist approaches such as Steiner and Montessori, are proof of children learning being effective here. My short time as a Nursery teacher and cover teaching at Foundation Stage verifies this.
Some useful links: