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Air pollution could be making us less intelligent

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by englishdragon, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    Air pollution could be making us less intelligent
    By Frankie Schembri, Aug. 28, 2018 , 4:00 PM (from AAAS Science)

    It’s long been established that breathing polluted air can have negative effects on our physical wellbeing—such as lung and heart diseases, cancer, even death—but it can also have consequences on our mental health. Researchers compared 20,000 Chinese citizens’ performance on language and arithmetic tests conducted between 2010 and 2014 with recorded levels of local nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution, The Guardian reports.
    (https://www.theguardian.com/environ...-huge-reduction-in-intelligence-study-reveals)

    High pollution levels were linked to significant drops in test scores, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education, the scientists report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see attached paper). The drop in test performance was greater for men, individuals over the age of 64, and people with less education.
     
  2. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Really fascinating and highly important, especially for those parents who have geographical options to exercise with regard to their children (many, of course, don't). If I thought I still had any personal options I would hope that twelve years on a high hill in rural Andalusia might help to balance some of the damage of yesteryear but, having lived in such places as Santiago de Chile, I have my doubts. Even more pertinent those first eighteen years in Wigan. Coincidentally, Dr. Eduardo changed my asthma medication yesterday, so I'll be out at dawn stacking the last of three tons of winter firewood.
     
  3. Ms_Love_

    Ms_Love_ Occasional commenter

    I saw this article and wondered how this matches up with the very high academic ability of the Chinese pupils I have been teaching here who live in a very polluted city! Surely if this were the case they would be becoming less intelligent than UK pupils?

    Also, was there a control group to compare these Chinese citizens with? Admittedly it does say that 90+% of people in the world are exposed to unsafe air although why is it that polluted countries tend to be at the top end of PISA?
     
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, I had the same thought, Xtinelove.
     
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You have to ask yourself if you are dealing with the average Chinese child or with the outliers.

    By and large, parents who are successful expect success for their children and put into place the foundations needed to facilitate success. Take Beijing for example. Let's say that there are 21 million people in Beijing and that the child population (a bit of googling here) is about 3 million. I don't know how many international schools there are in Beijing but let's go with 50. Again, let's say that they have a 1000 kids in each school. We don't need to consider ethnicities as they all breathe the same air.

    So, 50000 out of 3 million is 1.7% of the school age by population. Out of those 50,000 children, how many are seriously academic? Even if it is all of them, you are dealing with children who have had considerable support, come from wealthy families, probably have extra classes after school. All of these positively affect academic outcomes (as opposed to raw academic ability - if such a thing can be quantified).

    I would suggest that if you took the wealthiest 2% from any population, they would perform better in academic tests than those from the bottom 50%. I would also put forward the view that school does not measure academic ability but academic outcomes with a standardised methodology that rewards those who understand how the system works.
     
    englishdragon likes this.
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    How much time do your rich students actually spend outside though? Compared to the non-rich kids, the migrant workers, and the old folks? At my school the kids are basically inside all day.
     
    englishdragon likes this.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Perhaps diet also has a big effect on a student's academic performance. There is also a lot of research that seems to show that getting a good night's sleep might have an influence too.
     
  8. swsimp160

    swsimp160 Occasional commenter

    This is awful news. The average English teacher simply cannot afford to lose any IQ points as it is.
     
  9. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Diet does have an effect - I can't point to it exactly, but there have been UK studies which do show this (carried out in Scotland, I think).
     
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Does that mean 'teacher of English' or English as opposed to Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Liverpudlian, etc?
     
  11. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Never mind English - what about PE.....!
     
  12. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    The old stagers of the forum, before it turned into a vicarage tea party, will remember that doyen of iconoclasts Foney Pharaoh, P.E. teacher, scourge of fools and moderators, and definitely one of the sharpest in the box. Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
     

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