This is a story about successful kids (especially boys), common sense, and research.
Most of us spend hours each day sitting at work. Science says it’s killing us, and we have developed all kinds of fads to combat it–from standing desks to smartphone alerts to get us up and moving.
Armed with that knowledge, however, what do we force our kids to do each day at school? Sit still, for six or eight hours.
Yes indeed. Let us teach them to hate school. Let us teach them to hate learning.
Though, if they are on the smartphone, they will sit. We should combat this. Give them a boot outside without the phone.
Now researchers say that mistake leads us into a three-pronged, perfect storm of problems:
1. We overprotect kids, trying to keep them safe from all physical dangers–which ultimately increases their likelihood of real health issues.
2. We inhibit children’s academic growth (especially among boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate.
3. When they fail to conform quietly to this low-energy paradigm, we over-diagnose or even punish kids for reacting the way they’re naturally built to react.
This is all old stuff. We have been hearing about it for years. Yet, nothing ever seems to happen with respect to implementing this knowledge.
Most boys are rambunctious. Often they seem like they’re in a constant state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, getting hurt–maybe getting upset–and getting right back into the physical action.
Except at school, where they’re required to sit still for long periods of time. (And when they fail to stay still, how are they punished? Often by being forced to skip recess–and thus they sit still longer.)
It’s not just an American issue. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland recently tried to document whether boys actually achieve less in school when they’re restricted from running around and being physically active.
They studied 153 kids, aged 6 to 8, and tracked how much physical activity and sedentary time they had during the day. Sure enough, according to a report by Belinda Luscombe in Time, the less “moderate to vigorous physical activity” the boys had each day, the harder it was for them to develop good reading skills:
The more time kids … spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. [It] also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.
When I was a wee lad, I liked to do physical stuff, mainly outside. Not all of the time, but most of the time. It is what boys do, it is how they learn the basic ways of the world. When I came home from school, that is what I did. Not schoolwork.
That is what all of the boys did. We did it during our three recesses during school hours. The people who set up the school system seemed to inherently know what boys needed. What were the girls doing during recess? Who knows? They were doing what girls do. Whatever it was, boys did not notice.
The results didn’t apply to girls. I know that sounds sexist; the researchers offered a few possible explanations. Maybe there simply are physiological differences–or maybe the girls were just as eager to move around as the boys, but they were better able to set aside that disappointment and concentrate.
And for that reason, other researchers say, girls are rewarded more than boys in the classroom.
“Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”
I see. So it does not apply to girls. Very interesting.
In my individual case, I was very good at “girl learning”. But I could see that lots of the boys were not. When it came to the end of high school, at the top was me and a bunch of girls. The boys just did not really mesh with school; it was so obvious.
Well, things have gotten worse since my days. At least for the boys. Many factors have come together such that one might think that there is a conspiracy against boys. Let us consider,
I. Less recess
II. Less fun stuff to play on during recess
III More stuff you can’t do during recess
IV. Women principals everywhere
V. More difficult material presented earlier
VI. Lots of self-esteem, mostly for the girls
VII. Lots of touchy-feely subjects
VIII. The general feminization of society.
One wonders why they even send boys to school anymore. The women teachers don’t really want to deal with them. They want to teach “girl style” to the girls. The boys will just grow up to be useless men, so why bother with them? Well, maybe not useless, hopefully they will at least work and pay taxes. One might think that it is a shit test applied to boys; the ones that can disregard it with aplomb through it will become worthy men for the women.
Still, it is not a conspiracy. It is just a convergence of many trends; mostly related to letting women do what they want with the educational system. Pretty it is not. Furthermore, apparently it cares little about the future of boys.
Exit question – should classrooms be segregated based on sex with boys having men teachers and girls having women teachers?
Would doing so lead to the thirty-one different genders of classrooms?