We’ve written and written about the unfortunate effects of not allowing kids plenty of time to get their wiggles out during school hours. We are also extremely enthusiastic about forest kindergartens and organic forms of education that allow kids to learn in an expansive and less restricted environment. That being said, the vast majority of schools in the United States have kids literally stuck in a rut of an outdated educational system that desperately needs reform. The fact remains that sitting still in a desk and listening for hours upon hours is still expected in most schools (and offices, for that matter). However, one school in New Jersey has quickly seen the benefits of bringing a more active type of learning into the educational mix through cycling pedal desks. A Paramus Elementary School class of first graders received 10 desk pedals through a local health initiative at the beginning of the year and has quickly put them into active use. Unlike many adults who dread logging time at the gym, these six and seven year-olds adore their classroom addition, with more than one wishing that there were pedals for every desk in the classroom. Is this a genius solution for “wiggle worms” or a sad sign of the times and submission to a system that at its very core needs drastic change? We can’t help but conjure up images of a hamster in a wheel, but we also understand the need for teachers to have better solutions throughout a day strewn with stringent test-heavy schedules. We all know kids aren’t getting enough recess — but do cycle desks alleviate the problem? Cast your vote after the jump.
According to one teacher on the popularity of the cycle desk, “Kids would use it all day every day if they had it!” The desk cycles are more than simply a way to burn off energy and add some extra physical activity; they are an example of learning through movement (aka kinesthetic learning). For some students, this type of learning is an integral part of the problem-solving process, yet all children can benefit from the boost in focus and reduction in stress that a simple, repetitive form of exercise like cycling provides. Another teacher in the classroom has also noticed the students are reading better, fidgeting less, and making less excuses to get out of their chairs. Similar programs such as Read and Ride incorporate cycling into the school day and report associated growth in literacy scores. We can see how cycling desks may be a good idea for older children and teens who have mastered their motor skills — but these cycle desks are being set up for kindergartners and first graders! There’s no substitute for fresh air and plenty of recess, but are these desks the next best thing for kids who naturally and understandably don’t want to “sit still” in an unrealistic, static environment? We can’t help but think this is masking a glaring problem in the U.S. educational system — one we shouldn’t be pedaling away from.
via ABC NY
Lead image © Jenny Sevcik/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP