Walking or Biking to School Primes the Brain to Learn
Research shows that kids who get to school under their own steam enjoy learning benefits in the classroom. Unfortunately, varying social factors and infrastructural limitations often make such commutes difficult, if not impossible.
Washington City Paper, a really terrific publication, has an interesting piece up today by Tanya Snyder on how parents in the nation's capital manage frustrating commutes to and from city schools. DC doesn't offer school bus service for most kids and few campuses sport the necessary infrastructure for car commuting. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if every kid attended a school in their neighborhood, but that's not always the case. In particular, getting to and from the city's charter schools — for which enrollment is contingent on lucking out in a lottery — can be a daily nightmare. Several of DC's charter schools have experienced recent sudden location shifts that have landed them in more remote parts of the city, some even without sidewalks.
Snyder talks to parents who strive to organize headache-inducing commute schedules. Some of the details may be a little too site-specific for general readership, but I still encourage you to give the article a look for several interesting points that get brought up. Most notable among those:
"Back in 1969, 48 percent of U.S. kids aged 5 to 14 usually got to school on their own steam — walking or riding a bike. These days, it’s more like 13 percent. Kids who get fresh air and exercise on their way to school arrive more ready to learn. Physical activity has been shown to improve attention span, classroom behavior, and academic achievement...
... Spanish researchers found that a walk to school of more than 15 minutes improved cognitive function, especially in girls. They noted that the plasticity of the brain during adolescence makes it an especially important time to stimulate cognitive function. Walking and biking can also help stem the childhood obesity epidemic and reduce the incidence of diabetes."
Snyder also notes that anywhere from 10-14% of morning rush hour traffic consists of school drop-offs. That's both inefficient, dangerous (considering more cars driving near a school make for more perilous road/walking conditions), and something you'd think would be fixable somehow. The research suggests more parents should walk or bike their kids to school, or at least allow their kids to make the commute themselves, but varying social factors and infrastructure limitations seem to be getting in the way of that. As you can probably imagine, the beneficial bell curve plunges when safety hazards become a major concern. That's why it's important that city planners and school board officials work together to ensure safe routes to local schools for kids and their parents. Pedestrian-only zones would be a major plus and a comforting safeguard for children who would benefit from a little physical activity in the morning.
Read more at Washington City Paper.
Below, NYU Professor of Nutrition Marion Nestle discusses the dangers of unhealthy school lunches.
Photo credit: luminaimages / Shutterstock
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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