Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too much Sitting?

“The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
-Tom Bodett
The other night I heard a TED-xKids talk by the publisher of Make magazine with Do It Yourself (DIY) projects. He expected the magazine to appeal to guys and was surprised to find it popular with families with children. Kids love to make things and yet our schools are geared to produce "scholars" not "makers". Students must sit and read and think and write. Art & Crafts is an optional program at most schools that gets cut when the budget is tight. And shop class is only for some High School students. The publisher lamented that many kids don't even know who to hold a screw driver correctly. This is doubly sad he concluded because studies show that young brains grow faster when there is manual activity.

Last month, Lawyer-blogger Ann Althouse also expressed some ideas on early education: Don't send 4-year-olds to school. Send them to work. She quotes Cornell Anthropologist Meredith F. Small:
In non-Western culture, parents expect children to learn about what it means to be an adult by doing adult work. When we were an agriculturally based nation, American children used to work just as hard and contribute in the same way. But now, Western children are trained intellectually, in school, where they are taught to think about things as the entree to adulthood, and few contribute anything to the household economy.
That cultural expectation is now creeping earlier and earlier as 3-year-olds go to preschool and 4–year-olds start kindergarten. Everyone sits quietly at their desks, thinking and thinking.
Althouse then makes a few pointed remarks about too much sitting and thinking, perhaps this is a leading cause of childhood obesity?  There's also a new study that says excessive sitting is as bad as smoking, “being sedentary causes factors to happen in the body that are very detrimental”.

Althouse also questions the motives behind pre-school and kindergarten. Do we really have the best interests of the children in mind or is early education just
childcare, paid for by taxpayers who wouldn't accept paying for the childcare of parents who want (or need) to go to work. The children, unschooled, would be an economic burden on parents who would either purchase private childcare or forgo income from the second of 2 parents working.
Bottom Line

Are schools creating a new generation of weak limbed, overweight drones?

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