Raising the bar and advancing achievement should be a goal within every curriculum of public education. This is the time of year when we tend to focus more on our public educational system because now is the time for budgeting.
Have you noticed like the daffodils of spring suddenly you are seeing television advertising sponsored by a teacher advocacy group. It happens every spring like fertilizer for the seeds of the budget process. Just as common is the refrain, our schools are operating on bare bones.
The truth is we spend the vast majority of our entire town budget on education. How we spend it and what priorities we establish are always a matter of discussion. Some would say our teacher salaries have grown faster than weeds in a garden, while others would say they are under paid and living nearly an impoverished life. The average teacher in Coventry CT makes more than $60,000 so you can make your own decision on that.
Each year some items are cut from the budget or reduced due to changing priorities. Sometimes in an effort to bring out support for spending, rumors are begun about reducing or eliminating extra-curricular activities including sports programs. This is a shameful tactic, which borders on child abuse particularly when young students are ushered to a microphone to plead for money.
The importance of sports and physical activity is too often overlooked in the overall budget, too often it is brushed aside as a frivolous activity without full consideration. Sports participation is more than playing a game it can be a foundation for learning and can develop positive traits for a lifetime.
When physical education and activity is reduced it can have a negative impact on academic achievement and the learning environment. One recent study from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam has drawn an interesting conclusion.
“Based on the results of our study we can conclude that being physically active is beneficial for academic performance,” says lead researcher Amika Singh, adding there may be a biological explanation for that. “There are, first, physiological explanations, like more blood flow, and so more oxygen to the brain. Being physically active means there are more hormones produced like endorphins, and endorphins make your stress level lower and your mood improved, which means you also perform better.”
More importantly students that participate in structured sports activities learn the importance of rules, how to follow them, and the consequence for breaking a rule. Yes, in simple terms they learn personal responsibility. This is a learning experience that can be carried over to the classroom with improved behavior, concentration and self-discipline.
It has been widely reported that some Japanese companies engage employees in physical activity to begin the day. This is to improve attitude and lower stress for employees as well as for long-term health benefits.
Think what a high school learning environment would be if the curriculum included mandatory physical activity to start the day. Not just a short jog once around a track but an entire school committed to physical and mental training.
The place to start such a program is in our elementary schools. Developing a habit of exercise when our students are young will provide a foundation for life. Expecting to change student behavior and habits in middle and high school with our current “physical education” is unrealistic.
A morning workout just maybe the best investment in education for the next generation.