I want you to keep two opposing concepts in your head:
1, Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Brasenose College, Oxford.
2, Dave Mania, PHD in Teenage Mayhem at Dutch Elm Comprehensive, Ladbroke Grove.
The Egghead and the Hooligan. The former is much exercised by the latter.
Why does Dave conk out in my classes? The Professor knows. Research has shown that Dave has “a biological predisposition”. To wreck my lessons? Not quite. This teenage predisposition makes him “go to bed late and get up later”. Ah. What we doctors call sloth? Not at all.
His Circadian rhythms have run amok. Teenagers aren’t “properly awake until 10am”. Dave’s brain doesn’t work until then. Ergo, we should start school “later”. Moreover, Dave must be “educated why sleep is important”. Otherwise he might forget to do it, for the teenage bedroom, we learn, is “a place of entertainment”. Yikes! Is he up all night watching Kung Fu Head Crusher? Texting a paramour? Or necking White Lightning?
Whatever, he can’t start his studies until at least 10am. Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University concurs. He thinks it’s a whizzo idea for pupils to be conscious in the classroom. Go Al! So too does Geraldine Davies, Head of UCL Academy, Camden. Her school is already applying this cutting-edge research. Teenage pupils love it.
Dave too is keen on these egghead revelations.
“Breh’s on it! Dude knows, man,” opines he. “My brain works better later!” His chum Shaka is also a fan, though he favours an afternoon opening, so the drugs can wear off.
I too decide to put theory into practice. We’ll start at 10am. I wait. No Dave. 11am. Still no Dave. High noon. No Dave, as such. He finally pops in for a plenary in lesson five.
“Sorry, I’m late, sir. The old Circadian rhythms are shot!”
He is terrifically awake and giggling. His brain zooms about in all directions. I prefer him dormant.
So there we have it. Neuroscience reveals all. You’re probably not rubbish. Start late! If at all. Dave concurs. And I thought it was a bit of a Dossers’ Charter, an April Fool. Still, what do teachers know? Best leave it to the experts outside the classroom.