Critical ThinkingPop QuizSecondary Education

Pop Quiz: Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Because George Orwell is apparently required reading for members of the Conservative party in the UK, a government-commissioned review today made the suggestion that all packed lunches should be banned in English schools. Parents don’t know how to feed their own children, you see. The argument is that schools should provide healthy and balanced meals for pupils and that everyone should be forced to eat them, thus providing proper energy and nutrition to all children.

Although I despise the “everything’s better with sweeping legislation” attitude of the UK’s Tory government, I can’t deny that some of the food that pupils bring to school is far, far from healthy. I’ve known young people to literally have three packets of crisps/chips and a massive can of energy drink (or two) for lunch. In fact, this happens pretty much every day at my school, despite the fact that our canteen serves genuinely tasty and health food.

We’re supposed to be instilling critical and rational thinking skills in young people, but how can we do that if the children in front of us are either wired to the moon through caffeine overdose or can barely function due to lack of decent food? I’m not in any way convinced that the outright banning of “outside food” is the way forward, as is being suggested in the UK today, but it is concerning to see the amount of rubbish that gets eaten in our schools each day. Even Jamie Oliver’s plucky cockney quest to improve the quality of food in all British schools hasn’t been able to stop some young people from coming to classes either too jazzed to focus or too groggy to concentrate.

I was wondering about the state of food in your educational establishments. Our whole aim at School of Doubt is to promote critical thinking in young people, but we might find ourselves fighting a losing battle if we have to deal with children who don’t eat properly and who lose their energy by second period.


If you work in or attend a school or college that serves food, what kind of food is available? Does your establishment focus on healthy eating? If so, does it work? If not, would you like it to?


Do you see young people bringing their own unhealthy food to school? How does it affect their behaviour?


What do you think about how diet and nutrition during the day affects attention and thinking ability?


The Pop Quiz is a question for you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.


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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

1 Comment

  1. July 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm —

    Unless they apply and qualify for the need-based free lunch program, students here have to pay for lunches from the school cafeteria. That’s the main reason I always took a packed lunch: it’s a lot cheaper. Would this legislation require students to pay for those lunches? Because I don’t see how they could get away with that.

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