1/30/06

ADHD

Yesterday there was big feature article in our local paper on the epidemic proportions of ADHD in students. I know I have a strong bias toward the importance of movement and its relationship to learning, but they “the experts” have really missed the point. They spoke about diet the societal stimulus of bombardment with fast non stop images, but they forgot the key element. They forgot recess and free play and even Physical education. I read the article twice to see if I had missed the exercise part, no nothing. It is my belief that ADHD behavior could be significantly reduced if we gave short 15 to 20 minute periods of recess and a longer lunch hour. ( I know that saved me in school, my best subjects were recess and lunch) But of course we can’t do that because then more children would be left behind. They would not have enough time to spend preparing for standardized tests to get the teachers and administration a monetary bonus. The ADHD syndrome is a symptom of a larger malaise that is affecting society. If you had more time for recess then the school day would be longer and the kids would have less time to play instant gratification video and would watch less TV. If you lengthened lunch hour then someone would have to supervise the kids and that would cost more money. As I said ADHD is part of a much bigger problem. Let’s work to get real Physical Education back in the schools that will help. The emphasis needs to be on the physical to provide a release. PE does not have to be academic as some people are making it now. Make it physical, make it fun and playful. Give the kids a release. While I am on a rant here is another one. No coed PE from sixth grade through to the junior year in high school. This is a real tough time for both sexes. Girls are physically mature and worry about showing any physical superiority to the boys. The boys are awkward and if given a choice will not do anything to reveal just how awkward they are. Most of the people who read this blog are professional who have a voice. Let’s get people thinking about this!

2 Comments:

At 1/31/06, 1:15 PM, Anonymous Patrick McHugh said...

Vern: this is a great post. Someone I know pretty well, Dr. Paul McHugh, who was Psychiatrist in Chief at Johns Hopkins University for over 25 years says "more recess less ritalin" when he speaks on the subject today.
Just yesterday, I was finishing our track practice in the weightroom and my 10 year old son came over to meet me because I take him to his cello lesson right after my practice is done. The music center where he takes his lesson is less then 100 yards from our weight room -- pretty convenient, huh. So while I was finishing practice, he jumped on one of the elliptical machines for 5 minutes just because he likes to do it. His lesson that immediately followed that five minutes of exercise was excellent. He was able to stay on task better and accomplish the teachers requests more easily then usual. I know this is just anecdotal, but I immediately saw the connection and thought, Wow! I am increasingly concerned about the amount of stuff we try to cram into a school day not just at the elementary level, but at the high school level as well. Who makes the sacrifice in time? Always Physical Education Class, Lunch period or recess. We have sacrificed quality of instruction for quantity.

 
At 1/31/06, 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vern:
There is certainly something to think about here that suggest taking a second look at our thinking in this area. I spoke with an academic advisor for a major D-1 university athletic department. She actually had athletes who struggled in the classroom doing homework on treadmills at times, with good results. As she said - these athletes are memorizing 200 page playbooks with multiple options for each play and have to make decisions on the fly. It isn't that they can't think. We can see that they can. Experimenting with bringing physical activity into their study routine showed it to be an effective tool. There is obviously much more to the brain - body connection than we see from our limited knowledge. Anyone aware of research in this area.

 

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