Best of the Web

The pressure faced by principals, the impact of swearing around children and gifted children missing out - our selection of thought-provoking and useful articles from around the web on educating and raising children.

‘This is not something anyone should go through, especially over a job’: the sickness plaguing our principals

(Henrietta Cook, The Age)

The tragic death of Dr Mark Thompson in December 2014 has focussed attention of the enormous pressure and strain felt by school principals. The article reconstructs the events and details the pressures leading up to the suicide of Dr Thompson, who was principal at Eltham Primary School. A tipping point was an accusation by a parent that he had discriminated against a child with a disability. But as his wife Lynda says, the stress had been building for decades, along with a lack of workplace support.

Cussing in front of the kids: Does swearing cultivate sexism?

(Linda Doherty, ABC)

‘As parents, we tend to censor our words around children so they don’t go to school cursing like pirates,’ writes Linda Doherty, ‘but are we too tough on ourselves?’ The article explores the different views and research on swearing and children. Benjamin Bergen, author of the new book What the F: What Swearing Reveals About our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves, argues that swearing at children is harmful, but swearing around them isn’t. The article also addresses the issue of whether many swear words are inherently sexist.

Scientists studied 5,000 gifted children for 45 years. This is what they learned about success

(Chris Weller, Agenda, World Economic Forum)

The focus in the education system is often about lifting up the lowest performing, writes Chris Weller. But what about the children at the top? The findings of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth in the United States of America indicate that children who show an early aptitude for maths and science do not tend to get the help they need. Teachers devote more of their attention to underperforming students, and those who might go to invent life-changing medical devices or sit at the United Nations can fall into less influential roles.

Be Cleopatra not a Kardashian, girls advised

(Judith Burns, BBC News)

Among role models for young people, reality stars feature heravily. A poll at a girls’ school in south-west London, Wimbledon High School, showed a significant number regarded Kim Kardashian West and singer Taylor Swift as role models. Jane Lunnon, head of the school, was so concerned she began a project to encourage girls to focus on characters like Shakepeare’s Cleopatra, ‘who wield power and influence in a man’s world’. She wants them to imagine Shakespeare’s heroines in contemporary settings.