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View Diary: A Response to TeacherKen and Dailykos Community (357 comments)

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  •  a few thougths on the subject (none)
    I hear a lot of discussions, even some on this diary, that the solution to education problems is that kids need more time "in the seat".  

    On the other hand, I hear serious concerns about the epidemic of obesity in the U.S. and around the world.

    I also hear about how children are suffering from sleep deprivation, which research indicates is contributing to (you guessed it) obesity and academic problems.  

    I have a six year old.  She spends a seven hour day at school, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  She comes home with so much homework (due every day) that we need to spend about 45 minutes (more seat time) getting it all done.  The school is pressuring us to drop her off an extra half-hour early, when they have breakfast time, and listen to story.  The school gives a grudging 15 minutes for recess, and rotations (not every day) for P.E. alternated with Music and Art.   This all adds up to about 9 hours of work a day, or more with almost no physical activity.  There are pressures to extend the school year into summer, and push those little noses to the grindstone a little harder.  In addition, even her pediatrician was pushing "extracurricular activities".  We should just tack that on to her 9 hour day, I guess.  We will not deprive her of opportunity, but we're not going to schedule up to her eyebrows, either.  If we didn't make a commitment to leave time to play with the neighbor kids, and run around and have fun, it would get scheduled out.

    A six year old is very active.  I can't help but wonder if 8 1/2 hours "in the seat" with only a  guaranteed 15 minutes of physical activity is healthy, or even conducive to learning.  

    I was reading an Isaac Asimov book called Magic that I found as we were culling books (we kept it).  He said that people placed the blame for educational failures on the fact that parents weren't spending time with their chidlren.  He observed that many parents are uneducated, and would not know what to do to help their children if they did spend that time with them.   There is an entire county in Mississippi that was effectively literate only a few years ago.

    It took generations to create some of the problems.  Up until a little over a hundred years ago, we deprived a huge chunk of our population from having property, education and opportunities.  Those families are still struggling to regain skills, education, property and opportunity.  They make progress every generation, passing a bit more to their kids.

    There is no easy answer.  Kids need a healthy diet, sufficient rest, plenty of exercise, opportunities for social interaction, a safe and healthy home environment, great teachers, a quality curriculum, adequate school facilities, parent's who model the importance of an education to their kids, frequent exposure to new experiences.  They need to be taught how to listen, follow instructions, and to respect authority before they get to school.  We can fiddle with schools forever, but we also need to look beyond the schools if we really want to see progress.

    That's why I'm progressive.

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