You may have seen this article. It has been making the rounds on social media lately. A veteran teacher spends two days shadowing students and learns "Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting."
I could not believe how tired I was after the first day. I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot – in front of the board, pacing as we speak, circling around the room to check on student work, sitting, standing, kneeling down to chat with a student as she works through a difficult problem…we move a lot.
Those of us who teach younger children have serious concerns about the trend to push the passive, receptacle of learning approach further and further down the line. As the high school teacher learned, everyone needs to move. It is exhausting not to move.
For young children, movement is an imperative.
I highly recommend this video, by music educator Robin Giebelhausen. The topic of her four minute video is, "Movement is an integral part of the music classroom!" Now, as we have all gotten used to quick videos about cats, funny commercials, song parodies and so on, four minutes can seem like an awfully long time.
Watch the whole thing. You will be amazed at how much she accomplishes in four minutes. And then, ponder this: we cut Music and Art instruction this year for elementary Title One schools as a part of the Model Schools initiative. Fifteen minutes a week less of each. Thirty minutes per week of less hands-on, less movement, less multi-sensory education for young children.
We should be looking at ways to support movement from early childhood onwards, not making cuts in the very programs that do it best. In fact, we should be adding more movement all the way through high school. Movement is a human need. It connects to how we absorb information in a variety of ways.
Our kids need healthy food, clean water and clean air, access to bathrooms, enough sleep, and they need to move. Music and art instruction, especially for younger students, incorporate movement with meaningful and challenging content in ways that enhance the overall experience for the students.
Any approach to address the achievement gap which reduces these key elements will fail, and is harmful to our children. Students are not mere "receptacles of content." Let's stop treating them that way.