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Recess’ Comeback

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Recently, decreasing recess time, or getting rid of it altogether, has been a popular trend in American elementary schools. Many students here at Central High School attended middle schools that had no recess. Fernecia Smith ’16 attended New Beginnings Family Academy which did not have a recess; instead, the middle schoolers there had electives which were meant to provide a relaxing time for them. She still believes that this is the best possible course for middle schoolers, saying that electives are far more productive than simply free time. Considering how many schools have taken recess out of their daily routine it is safe to say that recess is not highly valued.

However, the idea that recess is a waste of time has been challenged recently. Texas Christian University kinesiologist Debbie Rhea traveled to Finland to discover why the primary education there is so superior to American primary education. Finland consistently ranks at the top of international education rankings so Rhea wanted to figure out what the main differences between the two countries’ educational system is. She realized that the most significant difference is that Finland offers significantly more time for recess.

Rhea realized that American schools need to have more time for recess so that students could properly have time to relax and enjoy themselves. She understood the importance of downtime and how it can help you in the long run.

Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas has started employing this method of increasing recess time and recess sessions. They have 4 sessions of 15 minutes per day. The teachers all agreed that the students were not only focusing more, they were able to get through the syllabus faster and the test results increased too. NPR reports that Rhea’s discovered method will spread to many other schools in Texas, California and Oklahoma with the hopes that the test scores there will improve as well.

This brings to question whether or not schools must increase recess time. On paper it makes senses that students would learn more by spending more time in class and less time running in a playground. In practice, there has not been any correlation showing that less recess time results in higher test scores. Instead, in some cases, we have seen the exact opposite.

A number or teachers here at Central High School believe that copious amounts of recess time. Ms. Liberty, the Anatomy and Physiology and AP Biology teacher here, said that “A lot more recess is absolutely necessary.” She believes that recess brings serious biological benefits to the students and that even in high school students should be offered. Considering Central’s standardized test scores and graduation rate it seems like recess could definitely help improve the school. By next year we will have more details on the effects of extended periods of recess, but if they are as successful as they were at Eagle Mountain Elementary School then it is only a matter of time before recess is back in primary education.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Recess’ Comeback”

  1. Ann Trapasso on January 26th, 2016 11:50 am

    JP, a fine article: well researched and with a compelling quote from Ms. Liberty. Every time that I am at a conference, I wonder how students can “make it,” having to sit for such extended periods of time. A good subject for further investigation and debate, as well as some practice! Enjoy.

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The student news site of Bridgeport Central High School
Recess’ Comeback