Energy to dance?
The recent ASCD Annual Conference ‘Choosing to dance’, March 9 - 11, San Antonio, Texas, addressed the theme of student and teacher health. One of the speakers, Fred Petersen, cited the following figures:
Thirty-five percent of students report not having vigorously exercised or participated in physical activity for the past seven days. Almost 43 percent of students report currently trying to lose weight. Seventeen percent of students report having carried a weapon on one or more occasions within the past 30 days. That’s 17 percent, which should be an alarm for all of us in terms of those of us who are interested in youth violence prevention efforts. And 70 percent of students report having tried cigarette smoking. Thirty percent of students have reported having someone offer, sell, or give them an illegal drug on school property during the past 12 months. Again this is data just from 1999 that should capture all of our attentions today.
While these figures relate to the United States, I wondered what might be true of our students? Just using the Internet I tried to find research and statistics relevant to New Zealand. I found anecdotal evidence, but little hard research, and no one synthesis of information which presented a comparable ‘snapshot’ of a New Zealand student. I might have found more if I’d had more time, but I moved on to asking questions in relation to another focus of the ASCD Conference - the health and wellbeing of teachers. Again, I found anecdotal evidence of stress and ill-health in New Zealand teachers, but no reputable research. Again, time was limited, and I might have missed good research. I rang a few teachers. They were not aware of any. So, I think the point is that, whether or not such research exists, health and wellbeing are a primary concern in the retention of teachers and the learning of students, and deserve more concern.
Laughter is the best...
After a pretty grim week I decided that laughter might be the best medicine! Ray McNulty, in his ASCD Conference address says:
I know you all pay attention to popular television shows. They have just started the next "Survivor" episode. And they’ve started work on the next one: three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped into an elementary school for six weeks. Each business person will be provided with a copy of their school district’s curriculum, a class of 28 students. Each class will have five learning disabled children, three with ADHD, one gifted, two who speak limited English, two will be labeled as severe behavior problems. Each business person must complete lesson plans three days in advance - with annotations for curriculum objectives - modify organize, and create materials accordingly. They will be required to teach their students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents. They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways and restrooms. In addition, they will complete fire drills, tornado drills, shooting attack drills, and assist with fundraising.
They must attend workshops, weekly faculty meetings, school improvement sessions, curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor students who are behind and get their two non-English speaking students proficient to take the SOL and SAT test... If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show. Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, social studies into the program. They must maintain discipline, provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times. The business people will only have access to the golf course on the weekends... Lunch will be limited to 30 minutes...
It went on a lot longer and ended:
The winner will be allowed to return to their corporate job.