I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times entitled “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity“? While I was reading the article it occurred to me that most schools are rewarding the most sedentary children and punishing children whose bodies are doing everything they can to get the exercise they need.
My son is one of those “wiggly” kids. He’s a 2nd grade student, “all boy”, and he has always struggled in school to “keep still” and “sit quietly”. Things are better this year because we enrolled him in a Montessori school where he has more freedom to move around but it’s still an issue. In the public school he attended for Kindergarten and 1st grade we were always hearing from his teachers, even his gym teacher, that he needs to exercise better self control in class – meaning he has trouble sitting still and listening to them lecture. Wouldn’t it be ironic if his “problem behavior” was actually a much healthier way to conduct himself?
I’ve always thought that sitting quietly in desks is really only in the best interest of teachers and has nothing to do with creating a good learning environment for children or doing what’s best for students. Mostly, it just seems to make life easier for teachers. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a different learning style and many, many people learn best by doing. Yet our schools still cling to the outdated notion that everyone learns best by sitting in small, uncomfortable chairs while listening to an adult who’s overworked, underpaid and, sadly, quite often overweight.
Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe these “wiggly” kids actually know what they’re doing?
The more I think about it the more it makes me sick to my stomach. My son has been led to believe that he’s “bad at school” because he doesn’t want to do what’s bad for his body. Maybe being bad at school is actually a good thing in some ways.
So next time a teacher tries to explain to me that my son “needs to sit still” I just might point out that he’s actually doing the right thing. Furthermore, I might suggest that his way of moving through the world during the day should be encouraged and rewarded so that he and his classmates don’t join the obesity epidemic.
Just one more reason to reinvent education.