Tips for teachers

By Mark Grace

“Provision of good material is the first factor a teacher must consider for the welfare of his pupils. Once they hold [the good material], it will become a part of their own self and will rarely be lost,” said the great Indian spiritual leader Shantananda Saraswati.

Schools usually deliberately and carefully select the best materials and resources to present to the child. Classrooms are becoming stimulating and high-quality environments and extracurricular programmes provide high-level coaching. While schools are increasingly conscious of the need to develop the child academically, culturally and on the sports field, often what we literally feed the child is not given sufficient attention.

Jamie Oliver condemns poor nutrition

World-renowned chef, Jamie Oliver, was recently invited to give a TED talk.1 Oliver said the current generation of children in the United States is the first generation of Americans to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. He graphically demonstrated that the top ‘killers’ in the USA today – strokes, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers – were all diet-related, and therefore avoidable. Oliver asked: What is the purpose of providing children with the skills required to live an active and productive life, whilst condemning them to a shortened lifespan through poor nutrition?

Oliver also maintains that the current generation of children in many developed countries is the third to grow up in homes where there is no longer a culture of cooking and eating together. Many families are now eating fast food and convenience foods. Children in these families are being fed a high-carbohydrate, high-sugar, high-fat, high-speed diet. Oliver maintains that such a diet is addictive.

Schools must take diet seriously

It is time for schools to provide an education that is for life and not just for the passing of examinations or extracurricular excellence. Schools need to take diet and food a lot more seriously. There needs to be a concerted effort on the part of teachers and parents to change the diet of children. Schools need to take responsibility for the food provided by their tuck shops. It is no longer enough to merely give children information about food. It is time for schools to demonstrate how to live a balanced, healthy and sustainable life.

Towards the end of his talk, Oliver challenged schools all over the world to ensure that every child is able to cook at least 10 recipes before they leave school. It may well be time to take such a suggestion seriously, so that the next generation not only enjoys a high standard of living but also a better quality of life.


1. TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading’. It started out in 1984 as a conference, bringing together people from three worlds: technology, entertainment and design. Since then, its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences – the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TED Global conference in Edinburgh each summer – TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programmes, and the annual TED Prize. Visit to learn more, and see our related story on page 83. Jamie Oliver’s TED talk can be viewed at

Category: Winter 2012

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