A post titled Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess got 40,000 likes on Facebook, meaning 40,000 people thought their friends needed to hear that. But those 40,000 people are not taking their kids out of school and they are not participating at a legislative level to change recess policies.
The process of school reform is slow. It probably took three or four years for the teacher who got the grant for the pedal desks to actually get children sitting in them in a classroom. The only thing that goes more slowly than government funding is government legislation, so we’d need years to get kids more recess.
Parents know affecting change in schools is a waste of time
So there is no incentive for parents to devote their time to changing school problems like the recess mandates. Because parents would give up time with their kids to work toward changing school policy for the benefit of kids who will be in school after their own kids have finished.
Parents don’t want to look ignorant to the problems
Most of the stuff parents are irate about is not stuff parents are actually doing anything about. This explains all the Facebook likes. Chris Dyson explains that usually people who share on Facebook are picking a cause that matters to them, and then they share to
- Define themselves as caring about the cause
- Feel more involved in causes they care about
- Get the word out about the cause
See how it’s fashionable today to display a clear understanding of how bad school is for kids?
But, as Dostoevsky says, “It takes more than intelligence to act intelligently.”
Parents have a clear vision of what their kids need
There was general uproar after the Washington Post suggested ways to help fidgety kids sit still during school.
People said kids don’t need to sit still. And finally the Washington Post did the reporting to show that frequent short breaks and changes in seating isn’t the solution because kids need to run and roll and spin:
In order to create actual changes to the sensory system that results in improved attention over time, children NEED to experience what we call “rapid vestibular (balance) input” on a daily basis. In other words, they need to go upside down, spin in circles, and roll down hills. They need authentic play experiences that get them moving in all different directions in order to stimulate the little hair cells found in the vestibular complex (located in the inner ear). If children do this on a regular basis and for a significant amount of time, then (and only then) will they experience the necessary changes needed to effectively develop the balance system–leading to better attention and learning in the classroom.
Lindsey Lieneck, a pediatric occupational therapist wrote “Come on people! We are a brilliant society! We can create technology that is out of this world. Yet, we can’t figure out how to provide enough time for children to move?”
The cacophony of complaints about school is not anger, it’s fear
Probably most of these people are not taking their kids out of school. And none of these people are publicly demanding other people take their kids out of school. Because that’s too scary for most parents. But regardless, complaining about the detriments of school helps people organize their thoughts.
The first step to taking action is seeing the problem and then talking about the problem. I didn’t take my own kids out of school until after I made the agonizing decision to write about the question of taking my kids out of school.
So blogger tirades and flurries of letters to editors make me feel good. I feel a wave of energy from the people who are taking the path I took. And I see myself more clearly, as a reluctant reformer and scared pioneer, watching others come along as well.