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We have a tendency to think that everything which is new, as an improvement on that which is old. Whilst new inventions can improve our lives I am talking about changing things that work quite well for no reason other than something new has turned up.

Research has shown that new medications are often no better than the ones replaced. And the gap between medications and placebo had dropped considerably over the last 40 years. It also turns out that many “new” medical procedures are not any better than the ones they replace.

A review in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed around 40% of new treatments reviewed between 2001 and 2010 were no better, or worse than what they replaced. Some 38% were better and in 22% it was not clear.

This principal also applies in other areas where new ideas take hold.

In the education sector all the ideas about teaching were thrown out after the 1970’s in a postmodernist orgy of change. Employers now bemoan graduates who are virtually illiterate and we have a generation who has no idea whether they are achieving or not because everyone gets a medal just for showing up.

A local school has had a significant improvement in its results over the last few years. The headline was “The secrets of their success”. When one looks at what they did it is neither a secret or very new.

The school did explicit teaching including phonics (they taught the children to read and write). They scheduled extra reading classes. They coached teachers on how to improve their performance. They got the children to wear school uniform.

And they held high expectations for the children to succeed. In other words they emphasized doing your best rather than just going through the motions. I sense between the lines that the school deviated from standard government department education protocols.

Put simply the school has an approach, which went out of fashion in the 70’s. That is one of teaching, discipline, respect and aiming high. Very simple, and very effective. Not new or a secret.

In health we have also gone down the path of new drugs, new procedures and worshiped at the altar of medical science. Certainly some new advances have been very beneficial but we have thrown away the knowledge of our ancestors.

As I have written previously we have also gone down the path of “low fat” foods being seen and promoted as being healthy. This has now been shown to be wrong.

The basics of good health have not changed, since the days of Hippocrates.

Things like eating foods in season, drinking mainly water, being active and meditating.

When we do not do this our health suffers and we then look to the system to fix us. The system is decreasingly able to do so.

Going forwards the new secrets in health will be the rediscovering of the basics of old.