Boys and Girls NEED to Run Around

June 28, 2011 at 8:19 AM Leave a comment

PE classes and open spaces have become scarce at the same time that academic accountability has risen. What has been lost in the transfer is the place for recreational activity in the learning process.

The Trouble With Boys has percolated up to the surface of the dialogue in education. It has been suggested that schools are designed for girls, hitting gender bias as an issue, and suggestions quickly go hyperbolic to the point of total school redesign with same sex tracking. However, the real gender difference is how children are socialized to deal with boredom, fatigue, and distraction. Boys move around, girls quietly lose focus without obvious behavior problems. Both genders suffer academically, but educators look for the Problem Child…not the problem.

Maybe we don’t have a problem with boys. Could be that boys AND girls have a problem with us, and at least one element may not be so hard to resolve. PE classes and open spaces have become scarce at the same time that academic accountability has risen. What has been lost in the transfer is the place for recreational activity in the academic process. Children who have time for physical activity return to their studies with greater focus and stamina. Boys AND girls could benefit from short activity breaks and reintroduction of kinesthetic electives.

Engaging lesson plans are well established among best practices in the classroom. In addition, it is well documented that student centric spaces that allow for movement during learning support the kinesthetic learner. However, the need for recreational activity as the cerebral intermezzo between lessons may have been underestimated. Further, shortened lunch times and shifting of sports and other physical activities to out of school time prevent children from having intellectual and emotional downtime when they need it. Being natural problem solvers, the children try to get what they need for themselves.

A child who is acting out cries for help. A child who grows silent goes unnoticed. Both need a remedy. I am not suggesting that recreation is a total cure. Yes, there are intractable problems that need closer study. However, we should try the simple solutions when we can, and the return to play as a way to enhance learning is needed for children of all ages.

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Entry filed under: Pedagogy. Tags: , .

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