"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Yoga is Not Recess

Althouse has an article based on a study by Cornell University Anthropologist Meredith F. Small about the lack of activity by children in public school:

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... Everyone sits quietly at their desks, thinking and thinking, just when they’d rather be out tending cows or weeding the garden. And then we think and think about why there's so much obesity.

Small goes on to state that education has become childcare in the United States and Althouse writes:

If what's really going on is taxpayer-funded childcare, then not only are taxpayers tricked into accepting paying for something they would reject if they knew what it was, but also children are being run through hours and hours of confinement performing exercises that are not honestly premised on benefiting them.

There's also that new study that says sitting is as bad as smoking. Since we wouldn't force kids to smoke, why are we forcing them to sit? We're even giving a lot of the kids drugs to overcome their disinclination to sit. It's like forcing kids to smoke and giving them drugs to help them smoke.

But not to worry, Joe Taxpayer and Mom and Dad! To combat the sitting required by the public school structure, you would think recess would help release those endorphins necessary for learning. Unfortunately, many recess times have been taken away from school schedules to make time for more testing and teaching requirements.

So what is a school to do? To settle down those pesky hormones and growth spurts of young children, some schools are calming those children instead of allowing them to expend energy by practicing yoga. The Wall Street Journal reports:

A three-year-old doing a downward dog? A four-year-old doing a cobra—and then helping a stuffed animal stretch into the same pose? .....Now thousands of schools across the country—as well as yoga studios and hospitals—are adding programs that teach children to do the exercises. In January, Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Southern California added yoga to its curriculum for 650 students at $20,000 a year. Principal Adriana Chavarin says she has seen how calm and centered students are after practicing the techniques. At a recent assembly, students were getting restless as they sat on the floor. Then a few sixth graders spontaneously led the rest in yoga poses and breathing exercises.

"Every kid in the audience quieted down," says David Miyashiro, the district superintendent. "It's a different language they all speak now."

"It's a different language they all speak now." What language do you think that might be? What happened to children learning how to play at recess, create their own games and learn how to handle unstructured time without adult input? This is an important type of "language" children need to learn in free time. Is the type of "different language" children speak now necessary because they are not allowed to appropriately develop through child-centered play?

What do you do with children who need real physical release to function during the day? Some educators are concerned about this move away from recess. Here's a statement from The National Association for Sport and Physical Education:

"Recess ... may facilitate improved attention and focus on learning in the academic program. Cognitive abilities may also be enhanced by recess. Studies have found that students who do not participate in recess may have difficulty concentrating on specific tasks in the classroom, are restless and may be easily distracted. Recess serves as a developmentally appropriate strategy for reducing stress."

Many districts around the country (such as the Rockwood School District in suburban St. Louis) have reduced recess minutes to commit that time for mandated curriculum minutes.

Are we trying to make children adapt to the adult mandates placed on their day vs nurturing a child's physical and emotional development? Why do children need yoga to relax? Could it be because as recess is diminished, the students "may have difficulty concentrating on specific tasks in the classroom, are restless and may be easily distracted?" Is this a red flag that the daily schedule for children is not beneficial and creating stress? Is practicing yoga truly an acceptable replacement for old fashioned recess?


  1. Here in Florida, recess and PE, have been hit hard, disappearing at the primary levels.

  2. What are they doing to our children and why are we letting them?
    Sad to say, it is a free babysitting service for so many families, and even , if they want something different so many moms are forced to work, and private schooling is often totally out of reach for many parents.

    We must find a way to break the hold the hold of gov't schools on our children.

  3. "The Cartel", a great documentary film is now on Netflix, it has a 5 star rating, see how communism has taken hold of our schools and the administrators that have raped our kids and the teachers unions who have robbed us blind.


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