Institutionalized Child Abuse
Last year at this time Seattle's Public School teachers were on strike. They had a list of demands, most of which were ultimately met, including the requirement that all elementary school children receive a minimum of 30 minutes a day on the playground. As pathetic as that victory might sound to those of us who live and work in the world of play-based education, some schools were limiting their charges to 15 minutes of recess over a school day. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in America and indeed many other parts of the world.
As heartlessly cruel as this sounds, it's the result of administrators and teachers who have bought into the entirely unsupported myth that more "instruction time" will result in "better results," and that every moment of free play, especially outdoors, is a waste of time. Meanwhile, 17 million children worldwide have been prescribed addictive stimulants(like Ritalin), antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs for "educational" and behavioral problems, over half of them in the US. Already one in ten American students are on these drugs and the fastest growing segment are children five and under.
And now this from the UK:
Tests to assess . . . children's physical development at the start of the first school year found that almost a third to be "of concern" for lack of motor skills and reflexes. Almost 90 per cent of children demonstrated some degree of movement difficulty for their age . . . The tests suggest up to 30 per cent of children are starting school with symptoms typically associated with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD -- conditions which can be improved with correct levels of physical activity, experts say.
What's to blame? Lack of physical play is a big part of it, but there's more. According researcher Dr. Rebecca Duncombe:
"Young children have access to iPads and are much more likely to be sat in car seats or chairs . . . But the problem can also be attributed to competitive parenting -- parents who want they children to walk as soon as possible risk letting them miss out on key mobility developments which help a child to find their strength and balance."
And why do we have competitive parenting: because our schools, indeed our entire educational environment, is built around the idea of competition; around the cruel caution that "You don't want your child to fall behind." Bill Gates has Teacher Tom: Institutionalized Child Abuse: