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Arthur L. Caplan and Lee H. Igel of the NYU Sports & Society Program warn that many American schools are reducing or eliminating recess in order to make more time for Common Core testing, and they explain why this is a terrible idea. NCLB testing started the race to narrow the curriculum, then Race to the Top raised the stakes. Now, Common Core testing–which will cause large numbers of children to be labeled “failures”–makes the testing even more decisive for students, teachers, and schools. Thus, recess and physical education fall victim to the pressure to spend more and more time preparing to take the tests, which will decide the fates of everyone, even the school itself.
In an article in Forbes, Caplan and Igel explain that recess is necessary for children’s healthy development.
They write (the links are in the original post in Forbes):
For those committed to keeping kids in the classroom, which keeps them away from the playground, consider the following:
Rates of childhood obesity have more than doubled in children during the past 30 years and about 18% of children in the U.S. are obese, according to both a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association;
Countries that are internationally regarded as having the best education systems, such as Finland, schedule time for students to have unstructured breaks throughout the day;
Activities—physical, emotional, cognitive, and social—that children regularly engage in during recess are essential to development and well-being, in childhood and throughout the lifespan.
Kids eat better and healthier when they get recess.
“Preparing America’s students for success” is one of the slogans often trumpeted by the Common Core initiative. It is a terrific aspiration—and an even better objective. But if you ask most parents, teachers and students, they will tell you that, under current conditions, it is closer to imprisonment than education.
With physical education classes now almost non-existent in our schools, recess needs to be a part of the school day. Students—and teachers—need occasional, repeated breaks from their work. It’s how the human body and mind get repaired and recharged.
What do we mean by success? What are we willing to sacrifice to get it? We should not sacrifice children’s health in pursuit of getting a higher score on a commercial test.