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The Power of Play: Sedentary Classrooms Lead to Disinterested Students

edCircuit Opinion:

My most memorable course in college was not because of its gripping content, but because of its length. Every Monday and Tuesday at 9 am, I sat in my chair for four hours and listened to my professor regurgitate information. Immediately following this class, I had another which was three hours long. While I cannot recall all that I learned, I do remember how I felt every time I reached the halfway point. In her article for CNN, Carolina Blatt-Gross raises the question: why do we make students sit still in class? If it’s hard for a college-age student to remain focused, imagine what those in K-12 grades experience. We learn and draw in new information through our bodies, and our mind is within our physicality. Research has shown that physical activity helps students learn. Do you believe that sitting still forces the student to focus their energy on physical restrictions? If so, what impact does this have on their learning?

At a Glance:

  • Meanwhile, commitment to recess, art, labs and nearly any type of learning that involves the body is generally dwindling.
  • Play is under pressure right now, as parents and policymakers try to make preschools more like schools.

Around the Web:

Why do we make students sit still in class?

Carolina Blatt-Gross | CNN

As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to observe a number of idyllic, progressive classrooms where students danced to the pencil sharpener or sprawled across beanbag chairs while completing their work. I read countless books and articles about research that supports physical activity as part of academic success. It made sense to me — theoretically — that children should be allowed to move their bodies. Asking them to do otherwise, I came to believe, could be detrimental to both the student and the teacher.

Then it got personal. I had two children of my own, two fearless boys who are so busy they don’t have time to stop for uninteresting activities like eating, sleeping or potty training. Our eldest son lobbed himself out of his crib at 10 months and hasn’t stopped climbing since. Putting clothes on our younger son currently involves a high-speed chase followed by a wrestling match and, if we’re lucky, ends with at least one piece of clothing partially in place.

Obviously, it takes more than a little mental and physical effort for them to keep their bottoms in a chair.

To read more visit CNN

Let the Children Play; It’s Good for Them!

Alison Gopnik | Smithsonian

Walk into any preschool and you’ll find toddling superheroes battling imaginary monsters. We take it for granted that young children play and, especially, pretend. Why do they spend so much time in fantasy worlds?

People have suspected that play helps children learn, but until recently there was little research that showed this or explained why it might be true. In my lab at the University of California at Berkeley, we’ve been trying to explain how very young children can learn so much so quickly, and we’ve developed a new scientific approach to children’s learning.

Where does pretending come in? It relates to what philosophers call “counterfactual” thinking, like Einstein wondering what would happen if a train went at the speed of light.

To read more visit Smithsonian

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