For the first time in over 30 years, students in Chicago’s embattled school system are getting to experience something their elders took for granted: recess. An education casualty even before the advent of No Child Left Behind, recess is being reevaluated thanks to several studies demonstrating its many benefits on children and the classroom. Some of these include increased focus, better behavior, and more efficient absorption of ideas.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Despite the benefits, principals bemoan the “total chaos” that they say recess periods represent. One organization, Playworks, attempts to mitigate administrators’ fears by offering “recess coaches” to create structured sports and activities. However, it’s hard not to see this kind of structure as just another class. According to one researcher, children should be the ones in charge, not the adults: “A very important part of what kids do on the playground is social competence…[y]ou have to cooperate, you have to use language, you have to compromise. That is huge, in terms of both academic success and success in life.”
We, the living, have won the history jackpot. As centuries go, the 20th century ranks as exceptional, a hard to fathom whirlwind. (The apocalyptic way Stalin and Hitler mass-murdered side-by-side.) […]