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Corbin HInes

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Will the removal of recess from our school systems prove to be detremental to the social progress of our children?

In 2004, the Bush Administration in an attempt to curb the growing fail rate of our youth, created what we know today as "No Child Left Behind." On the surface, it sounded great in that aimed to give our students a fighting chance against the rest of the world in education but there was one clause in NCLB that few people are aware of or talk about. That is the removal of the once famed, recess. A child's one hour of relaxation has been replaced by an added piece of curriculum. There are many known benefits to children being able to play together and in a society where technology is constantly altering the social dynamics, is it fair to assume this won't affect our future children from engaging in healthy social practices?

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    Jun 17 2013: Your question makes a faulty assumption--that we need a relaxation period from learning. So, what assumption does that make of learning? It assumes that learning is a chore. It's not. Learning is a normal, natural, highly pleasurable experience. We are wired to learn. Exploring our environment is fun and the aha moment in the brain is an intrinsic reward that propels learning.

    Kids don't need a break from learning. Just watch them at play--drawing, running, creating, laughing and exploring things. Play is learning and true learning is play! What kids need a break from is education. Education (at least how it is normally conducted) is a systematic way to condition behaviors and responses. This systematized education does not produce deep learning, because it is inconsistent with how people are wired.

    So, the problem is not that kids need a break from learning. In truth, recess is a break from education. And, in the socialization and exploration of that break learning is occurring. Our model expects children to sit on their backsides and absorb what teacher has to say. It's a passive paradigm making the assumption they are sponges that need to absorb knowledge. We need to move to a more active paradigm--with more hands-on learning and interactivity. The more students become involved as active explorers, the more education begins to look like play.

    Just consider daydreaming. It's a way to escape into an internal environment that allows one to explore. When one is daydreaming they are not disengaging from learning. They're engaging in learning--in an active environment inside their head! Interesting that daydreaming was a key component of Einstein's exploration of physics! Could we consider his "daydreaming" learning? When kids need recess, it's not because they need a break from learning. Truth--they need recess when little learning is occurring.

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