When I was young my mother told me that as children, our minds were like sponges and that we could absorb much knowledge that our teachers gave over to us. An important thing that I would like to add to that, however, is that the transfer of information from teacher to student cannot be the only thing that happens from the time the student arrives in school until they go home for the day. Recess, it turns out, is an extremely important part of the children’s day.
What is happening is that teachers face great pressure, in part thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (which has essentially now seen over a decade of failure accumulate behind its name) there are teachers and administrators that feel that they need to cut out recess in order to increase the amount of time that is spent teaching. I feel that this is counterproductive.
Going from class to class without any time to stop and think about what has been learned makes it considerably more difficult to retain the information that was taught. Moreover, recess teaches things to children that cannot be learned elsewhere — important lessons in socialization and creative expression.
In some ways you could almost think about recess as a sort of nap — we know that naps are good for us and yet so few of us are able to take them during the day at our offices. If I were in charge of an office I would have a dedicated room meant only for allowing people to take a good solid nap at some point during the afternoon.
In short, it is incumbent upon us to support recess in whatever ways we can. Fortunately, there is an organization called Playworks that is chock full of advice for people who are looking to get involved in supporting recess and making sure that it does not fully leave our schools. If you do not have children it is of course considerably more difficult to approach school administrators and plea for something like recess for other people’s children. You can, on the other hand, discuss it with your local media. One can never tell the efficacy of a well written local newspaper article.