Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Education and Wellness

Recent research for an education paper and the culmination of a Wellness class have peaked my interest in the subject. We spend so much time debating what we can do to improve children's minds; meanwhile, their bodies are falling by the wayside. I understand that standardized tests put teachers under enormous pressure to cram in academics, but what happened to all the recess that children used to have?
In my practicum, kids have PE one day a week. If they are able to finish all their work, then they may get to play outside for a few minutes each day. While this is unrelated to fitness, I"m amazed that 3rd graders can stay focused for an entire day without any time to get their "wiggles" out. 6-6.5 hours is a long time to sit still! I observe for 5 hours/day and by the end of about 2 hours, I'm ready to jump, run, or at least stretch out.
But, despite the fact that it's nice to have a break, it's also crucial to children's health that good health habits are formed at an early age. Over 9 million children today are obese, and the government has decided that it's time to take action.
Action for Healthy Kids ( is an initiative that aims to combat obesity in the following three ways:
1.Increasing access to nutritious food choices in schools
2. Adding or continuing PE programs and extra curricular excercise activities
3. Educate administrators, teachers, parents and children

I think that this is an excellent initiative that is very necessary in our school systems today. Academics are so important, but bottom line is...obesity causes tons of health problems. Obesity leads to preventable deaths due to heart attacks, diabetes, etc. When it comes down to it, what good will it do if you're a genius, but your health is failing because you haven't taken care of your body?
Hopefully this will inspire schools to not push health and PE aside...children still need to know the importance of playing outside, having fun, eating healthily and taking care of their bodies. What's the possibility of including some standards for fitness? Or at least holding schools accountable for providing better options for fitness?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

We've been learning about special education in one of my classes and I have mixed feelings on the subject. I was talking to my dad, who is legally blind, about it the other weekend. He said it really frustrates him how his tax money goes towards helping some of these kids that are definately not going anywhere. And by this I mean the ones that need 24/7 medical attention and really can't learn much at all. I know there are many different types of disabilities serviced by special ed, but my dad said from his pov, he really thought that more of that money should be used for students who had a lot of potential.

I know it gets complicated, because it's not like you want to give up on students. But I am concerned that average to above average students will get left behind because so much attention is devoted to the special ed children. I was in an inclusion classroom in 5th grade and I remember kids crying ALL the time and the teacher had different colors used for the different groups of kids' assignments and I could never understand why my work was so much harder than theirs.

Do we have proponents of putting more into gifted/average than special ed? Or is that too taboo...I mean I know and completely understand all children need to have equal access. Any practical classroom experience with this?