Everyone Deserves a Break

Think back to when you were in elementary school.  What is the first thing that comes to mind?  For me, it’s the time I spent with my friends outside at recess running around, playing games, exploring, playing on the structure, talking, and using our imaginations.  The possibilities were endless.  Now I am in college and enrolled in a dance improvisation class as part of my dance minor.  My teacher, Sean Greene, encourages us to go back to our childhood and play with each other.  He tells us to not think about “dancing” and just move, letting our bodies sculpt our movement without reverting back to the dance technique that we have been trained in for so long.  One class, he mentioned how schools are cutting back recess and how angered he is about this.  A lot of his inspiration for choreography comes from his past, including childhood games that he played at recess.  I immediately began thinking about what will happen to kids when they have no unstructured free time outdoors during school to play and interact with each other.  What will happen to their creativity and imaginations?  Will this affect the future of the arts, including dance?

In 1999, The American Association for the Child’s Right to Play conducted a study of 15,000 school districts and found that nearly 40 percent were either eliminating recess, cutting back on it, or considering one or the other.  This trend has only continued since the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, where schools are focusing more and more on standardized testing, and the educational value of recess has been pushed aside.  In this blog, I will present the argument both for and against recess, and let the evidence do the persuading.  I am calling on Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, to set requirements for recess in elementary schools nationwide.  Recess should be reinstated the way it used to be, with 3 15-min intervals plus lunch for kids to play.  How many times do you take a coffee break in your day?  Kids are sitting in classrooms for approximately 6 hours at a time.  Shouldn’t they have the opportunity to go outside and have breaks also?  I’ll let you decide.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Everyone Deserves a Break

  1. Rin

    As someone who has been a student of Sean Greene’s, I feel he is a perfect example of why recess is important. I am excited to read more about this topic.

  2. I have never heard of this issue, and completely agree with your stance. At this point I am a little confused about how you are going to change this. I am sure you will address it soon, and am so interested to follow you on this journey.

  3. I think this is a great topic! I loved recess!!

    But I am a bit confused. What are the two sides you will be explaining. No recess or recess? Or no recess, shorter recess, or regular recess?

  4. This topic has never come to mind when thinking about education reform and after reading your post, I think it is a shame that this issue has been overlooked. I think it would be beneficial to find a psychological study that was done on the benefits of recess and include that in your blog along with statistics. Or perhaps interview elementary school teachers and see what they think about this issue, that could add another interesting/personal element to the blog.

    Great lead-in/intro to the blog, you caught my attention and I’m looking forward to reading more!

  5. This is a great topic. I do agree this problem is occurring, but I would focus also on why this is happening. I read in an article yesterday of the NY Times that do to bullies, many schools are adapting recess coaches.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/education/15recess.html?scp=1&sq=recess&st=cse

    Again, I really admire you for the topic. Recess is essential to every kid’s experience in growing up!

  6. This is a topic I never even would have considered. I can’t imagine why schools would cut back on having recess, even go as far to eliminate it all together. I think it is important for kids and teachers to get a break during the day so they can go back to class feeling refreshed. Kids in elementary school do not have the ability to stay tuned for hours at a time learning without some sort of break for “play time.” Recess and lunch time are ways for kids to interact to become sociable with other kids. Without it, people could become too focused on education without enough emphasis on communication.

  7. I recently did a report on Arne Duncan and I feel like he is a person that really listens to peoples concerns. I think he is a great person to make your argument for, and I also like your topic. I think you will have a lot to write about giving the pro’s of each different side. I also think your writing style is very clear and well structured, making your blog easy to read and understand. Recess is a big deal and your blog shows how it also ties into your life and how the simple play time is referenced back to and used for different projects/classes even when the children grow up.

  8. I didn’t even know that recess was being cut from schools because they do not seem to mention that. Recess was the best time of the day in elementary school and it lets children take a break and have fun. I have so many memories from the playground and it is where you develop friendships with people. I loved all your posts and can’t wait to see the finished product!

  9. This is shocking to me! I had no idea that this was going on! I feel that recess, especially at that young age, is extremely important. Kids attention span is not that long and having recess breaks up the day for them!

    I think a good approach is discuss the children obesity rise. This will only add to it. Children do not get that much exercise and need it more than ever! You can argue that this is taking away from them and ultimately, make them unhealthy!

  10. I love your topic. Very unique yet very applicable to today’s society. Child obesity has become increasingly more prevalent and having recess in school will encourage kids to get out and play.

  11. AJS

    I agree with your topic. Great topic, child obesity is out of control.

  12. chrystie sargent

    I was really happy to see this blog post. As an early childhood education professional, a mother of 2 young boys, and a Chapman Alumni I have a very tall soap box about the arts, unstructured play, dance and movement and human development. I have been fighting the school systems here in California for many rights for my son, and we are just starting along this path. I have always been concerned about kids and the removal of nature from their environments as well as the limiting of free exploration that happens in “play”. Sean Greene’s words are more than that of a teacher, but that of a very wise being. I sincerely hope more people discover the joy in play and do something to keep it safe for our children and our future.

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