Posts tagged ‘PE4Life’
A recent ABC News story profiles an exercise-based learning readiness program at Naperville Central High School, near Chicago, that is credited for helping students to achieve “astounding” academic achievement — a doubling of reading scores and an “increase of math scores by a factor of 20.”
I’ve highlighted the action-based learning program at Naperville a number of time (here), but this provides an opportunity to again promote PE4Life (the developer Learning Readiness Physical Education) and John Ratey’s book Spark! (an explanation of “the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain”).
Below is a story that aired on CBS’ “The Early Show” in 2009 about the LRPE program at Naperville — with enough exposure to research about the relationship between body and cognitive development, programs like this might begin to take root at schools throughout the country.
From, “Deskercise,” an NPR story last year on movement-based school lessons:
Students at Mitchell Elementary School in Charleston, S.C., don’t just write their multiplication tables. They jump them.
Innovations like this are part of the burgeoning movement to promote more action-based learning. Some studies suggest that incorporating physical movement into the classroom improves student focus and attention.
And just this week, Allison Aubrey produced another great story on how even walking at a 20 minute pace just a few times a week has dramatic effects on longevity and successful aging. From “How revving up your heart rate, even a bit, pays off‘”:
Changes in the brain during exercise could help explain the students’ improved behavior. There’s increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex during and just after exercise:
“They’re activating this prefrontal area,” says John Ratey, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “One of the jobs [of this part of the brain] is to inhibit the impulsivity coming up from the emotional part of the brain.”
This means kids may be more likely to think before they act.
Research in adults has shown exercise can boost blood flow, which can lead to improved focus and attention — not to mention a mood lift. Ratey says researchers are just beginning to nail down the benefits in children.
(Note: In addition to reading the text of each article, I highly recommend listening to the audio of each story.)
Here’s a brief promotional video for PE4Life. I’d rather students were outside and off of machines of any kind, instead engaging in natural and functional movement. But anything that gets people moving, especially youths in school and that promotes learning, is something I will endorse.
Research indicates exercise primes students for learning — Fit children may have less stress, longer attention spans, better memories and be more prepared to learn, according to recent research. Struggling students who took a physical-education class prior to an algebra class improved their test scores by 20.4%, compared with 3.9% improvement for other students, according to data from an Illinois high school. Click to read “A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind,” an article by Vanessa Richardson published in the June edition of Edutopia magazine that describes the research and science about how physical activity, especially strength and cardio exercises, helps kids to boost their brainpower in schools.
The Three Rivers school board in northwest Hamilton County recently voted to let high school athletes, cheerleaders and band members who have been involved in those activities for at least two years forgo gym class. This opens their schedules to take other courses while their peers sweat out state-mandated physical education classes.
“If our kids are involved in an activity over a long period of time, whatever sport they’re in, they’ve already learned or shown a commitment to fitness over a lifetime,” said Chris Brown, Southwest’s superintendent.
But some educators say this isn’t good for teenagers.
Nationwide, health and education groups are pushing for stronger phys ed classes and requirements at a time when school districts need to cut costs and pay attention to student test scores on academic subjects.
A solid PE class – more than sports, cheerleading or band – can teach students about remaining active beyond high school, said Steve Mitchell, a Kent State physical education professor who also coaches high school soccer.
“Consider the high school football player,” he said. “The offensive or defensive linemen have very specific roles in a football team. And football is not a lifetime activity. The majority of those kids will stop playing after high school.
“Unless we educate students in other activities they can pursue across their lifespan, this (waiver) does increase the likelihood that they’ll become sedentary adults.”
Until phys ed classes are radically transformed, however, I say yes, let student-athletes meet their fitness requirements through after school sports programs. Too often, PE classes are filled with only 5-10 minutes of moderate physical activity (once students get changed into their uniforms, line-up for attendance, have the rules of the game explained and taught, pick teams for an activity, get a turn to bat/throw/shoot/hit/etc., and then return to the locker-room to shower and change into their regular clothes for academic classes).
And the argument about football not being a lifelong activity?! Neither is playing whiffle ball or knockout, two of the more popular games played in my high school’s PE classes. Before someone is going to advance an argument like one made by Professor Mitchell made in the article, there needs to be evidence linking participation in high school physical education programs to lifelong physical activity. I am not aware of any such link. [Though there are some interesting results about the relationship between quality physical education and later-life health being conducted by PE4Life, which is linked to in the next paragraph.]
I am in favor for mandatory PE — maybe even (just maybe) for the most elite prep athletes. But it has to be quality physical education… like the kind of programs designed by PE4Life and being utilized in the Naperville School District outside Chicago. The key to true fitness (and academic achievement) is vigorous, cardiovascular activity for sustained periods of time, i.e. 20-40 minutes of activity with regular heart rates at 60-80% of the maximum rate.
In the meantime, let’s exempt the varsity athletes on high school softball, cross-country, soccer, water polo, and other sports programs from having to waste their time playing 5-10 minutes worth of dodgeball in PE class, especially when they could use that class period to take an arts elective or advanced academic course in school.